To USB or Not to USB


Game Consoles with USB 3.0 – XBox One and PS4

Microsoft unveiled the XBox One this week.  The Press Conference revealed what we should have known (from reading about the Kinect 2) that the XBox One and the Kinect 2 have USB 3.0.

Blow Apart Graphic showing USB 3.0

Why is USB 3.0 necessary?

The Kinect 2 has to take a 1920 x 1080 x a bunch of other numbers video stream.   The system a lot of image data, process it into at least 4 different kinds of images seen below, and deliver it to the software to process it for use by the game 

The game software then has to actually do something with it.  Show you dance with your feet and hands, change a Tai Chi stance, or swing a sword at a zombie.  All this has to happen as fast as possible.

To take the Uncompressed stream, you need a minimum of 2 Gbits per second.  I tried calculating this manually, then did a Google search and came up with this website

The point is, you take that Uncompressed video stream and push it through a USB 3.0 pipe and you can get the entire stream through to the game console.  The Raw data stream comes

Why not use a compressed USB 2.0 stream?

 It takes additional time for the camera to compress the stream. After transmission to the game console through USB 2.0, the compressed video would need to be decompressed.  Both the Compression step in the camera and the decompression step in the game console take time.  This creates latency, a delay, and steals time from the game console and software.  Time that is needed to actual use the image data, process into useful information that can be used by the game.

Using USB 3.0 give you more time

The uncompressed video with USB 3.0 gets to the game console faster, for faster processing, into useful data.  This allows the games made to be more responsive, more precise. It can detect individual finger movements, or which side of your hand is facing up.  It could also detect more points of interest both on you and a second player. 

More responsiveness from games is what these players want.  The greatest criticism of the previous generation of games, including the Kinect (which I own) is that it wasn’t responsive enough.   You would move your arm (moving a virtual sword) and you could easily detect a quarter or half second delay, and it wouldn’t register on screen.  So you had to further anticipate the game even earlier.  This responsiveness was not sufficient in the Kinect 1.  So it’s fixed with USB 3.0 in the Kinect 2.

USB 3.0 = More Data

More data = more responsiveness.  And isn’t that what we all want?


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