USB 3.0 PCI Express Cards for the Mac on the Horizon…Maybe

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Date: Friday, November 27th, 2009, 08:38
Category: News

USB3.0_2

Back in 1998, the original iMac was one of the first computers to adopt USB technology. Later, Apple proved to be a little late in getting USB 2.0 on its machines. Now, with USB 3.0 around the corner, some options may be emerging that suggest that Mac Pro and various PowerMac users will have access to USB 3.0 technologies.

Per CNET, Buffalo Technology recently announced their latest hard drives with USB 3.0 support, beating speculation that these devices would not arrive until next year. As for what this means with regards to USB 3.0 in Macs, the drives apparently ship with a USB 3.0 PCI-express card that can be dropped in and used on any system, and according to the press release they are compatible with both PCs and Macs.

“The USB 3.0 PCI Express Interface Card allows users to upgrade their PC, notebook or Mac to take advantage of the next generation of external hard drives that offer faster data transfer speeds than ever before.”

Although this may be good news for Mac users, the press release is a bit confusing since it also mentions the card is compatible with notebook systems. This may be an error, but also puts into question their claim of Mac compatibility.

The card being supplied with the drive is Buffalo’s IFC-PCIE2U3 card, and its inclusion with a drive that is advertised as being Mac compatible suggests (albeit indirectly) that the card is also compatible with Macs. Despite this, as with most USB 3.0 expansion cards that are already out on the market, this card’s information page has no specific mention of Mac support, and only lists Windows XP and later as supported operating systems.

Overall, this card may be an option for adding USB 3.0 support to PowerMacs and Mac Pros with PCI-express slots, but there is the possibility that these cards do not support Macs and are only being included with the drives to provide USB 3.0 speeds for PCs.

Time to wait and see, but if USB 3.0 drives are on the horizon, there’s a fortune to be made for a good third party PCI-express card that works and allows for the 4.8 GB Gbit/second data throughput rate none of us would mind having access to.

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