Bridging Change

Each time technology takes a big step forward it presents opportunities for some and hurdles for others.  Creating a bridge from older tools to newer tools really helps smooth the transition.

One of the beauties of USB for a long time has been its general friendliness toward backward compatibility for transferring data.  Plug an older USB2 device into a USB3 port and it still works, just at a considerably USB2 speeds.  Now, however, with the move to USB3.1 (with USB Type-C ports) there’s a new wrinkle—the data can still make it through (at lower speeds), but the plug/port has a new shape and an adapter is needed to make the backward compatibility work.

Somewhat similarly, internal solid state storage devices have moved from the long-running SATA connector/protocol to a whole new array of methods like PCIe, M.2, MSATA, etc.  This has increased data rates immensely, but without new hardware old storage devices don’t work very well or at all.  On a practical level, sometimes the old devices are fast enough for the intended purpose (think SATA SSD for backup), though to use them in this way has required installing them in an external enclosure or purchasing an add-on SATA-to-USB cable.

A couple of examples of “bridge thinking” were just displayed at Computex in Taiwan.  The idea was to take an older device (internal SATA SSD) and add an external USB Type-C port to allow the device to be connected to a new computer with a similar port and function as a self-powered external drive without further modification.  This is a simplification and potential cost savings I have a hunch will appeal to a lot of customers and I suspect other manufacturers will likely follow suit.

This entry was posted in Connectivity, Hardware and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.