To USB or Not to USB


Does my NAND require USB 3.0? Part 5 of 5 – Reader Mail

In the past 4 weeks, we’ve explored

Part 1: Intro to NAND

Part 2: Factors affecting USB (System) Performance – Drivers, Hardware, PHYS

Part 3: NAND in SD Cards and Flash Drives

Part 4: SSDs speed up and cross-over to Mainstream, Apple with faster SSDs


The Wrong Question

I’ve intentionally asked the wrong question.  The question is NOT, does your NAND require USB 3.0.

The question is: Does your market require performance?

Is speed required to:

  • Maintain Leadership?
  • Meet minimum customer requirements?
  • Keep your existing market share? Not fall behind?

I think the answer is Yes for all 3.

I break any market into 3 Tiers per the following table focusing only on Smart Phones

3 Market Tiers


I’ve only listed those 3 phones/phone makers because

  1. I know other people who own them
  2. I’ve tried them
  3. These are the only phones I’ve EVER heard anyone say they “love”


In Tier 1

Performance relates to the

  • speed you can switch between photos
  • bring up the camera
  • surf the web
  • or sync to your PC.

Features relate to

  • The quality of the camera
  • HD video quality
  • Apps available
  • Ease of getting content on the device


To some degree, all of these features depend on the speed of the NAND storage.

If you have slow NAND, it will take longer for applications to load.

(Yes there are plenty of other dependencies as well, like the speed of the graphics processor, the CPU, other tasks…)

Tier 1

If you are in Tier 1, you need to have USB 3.0.


Tier 2

If you are a leader in Tier 2 and want to move to Tier 1, you need USB 3.0 now, because your products will start shipping in volume in 2014.

If you are a leader in Tier 2, and want to keep your market share, you need to seriously consider USB 3.0 to maintain your learn

If you are not the leader in Tier 2 and you want to be a leader, you need to move now.

If you are not the leader in Tier 2 and 3 and just want volume that is good enough, you may not need USB 3.0.  This is because ever

Tier 3

Tier 3 exists in two ways.  Either companies that start late, very late with mature technologies after they have been out for many years, and make products like the USB 2.0 Flash Drives you can buy for less than $5.

Also there are the Tier 2 companies that take existing products that have shipped for a few years, and drive the cost of these down.  The sub $5, the cheapest products will not use USB 3.0 for at least another 1 year, but you can find many USB 3.0 flash drives at less that $20, but these will not perform at the levels of a Lexar Triton flash drive (tested here as the fastest USB flash drive for the money).  The NAND in cheap drives support faster than USB 2.0 speeds by 2x or 3x, but not the 5x we see with the Lexar.


The Conclusion

Most segments need USB 3.0.  Ivy Bridge sets the standard for PCs leading to ultrabooks and all Macbooks adopting USB 3.0 in the PC space.

In the SmartPhone Tablet Market

For the Tier 1 companies like have moved as lead by TI OMAP, Samsung Exynos, and Ivy Bridge for 2012 and 2013.  They set the standard for everyone else

and Tier 2 companies need to move for 2014 products.

You need to include USB 3.0 now to compete in 2 years.

Or you will die. (Well, not you, your company.  And maybe not your company, but maybe just.. never mind).  Adopt USB 3.0 and you won’t have any problems



Reader Comment,

I received 2 comments recently.

The first, more positive comment (as paraphased by me

It really shows in your blog, the research you do.

It’s possible this was a false compliment, but I think it was genuine because the commenter had nothing to gain by saying it.  (I’m not sure he even likes me).


The second comment was/is more entertaining.  I received this on a YouTube video commet.

You (Eric) are an idiot if you believe Smart Phones will replace mid-level cameras.

Which is a great comment because:

  1. It reminds me I’m an idiot
  2. It gives me an opportunity to point out that
    1. the Apple iPhone 4S and Samsung Note each have
    2. an 8MP camera and
    3. take 1080p HD Video
    4. AND have huge screens so you can see what you are recording
  3. And everyone at my kid’s school uses those phones more than cameras.
  4. And recording all the video, the fastest way to get the video onto your PC will be USB 3.0
  5. Next time I’ll count.


Send this to your friends and enemies please. Please please please.

I’m going on Vacation now. 

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