But don’t get too excited yet. You’ll need hardware that’s been specifically designed to take advantage of the USB 3.1 standard; currently none exist. In fact, the USB promoter group doesn’t expect any devices with USB 3.1 support to hit store shelves until the fall of 2014 – earliest. But the good news is that the new standard is 100% backwards compatible with USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 so all your old devices can plug in and they’ll just keep humming along at the fastest rates possible. This news comes on the heels of Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 announcement earlier this year in June. Thunderbolt 2 plans to leave USB 3.1 in the dust with mind numbing 20Gbps transfer rate. Thunderbolt 2 is also backwards compatible and products are supposed to become available later this year. Yet, despite the unfathomable speeds boasted by Thunderbolt, I still don’t think it’ll dethrone USB 3.1. Think about it: Thunderbolt cables cost significantly more than USB cables and that’s part of the reason why vendors, besides Apple, haven’t been quick to adopt. For example, it isn’t abnormal to pay $40 for a 0.5Meter (1.5 Ft) Thunderbolt cable. Compare that to USB which gives you 10ft for 10 bucks. In addition, USB will win because USB support is virtually ubiquitous. Thunderbolt is still having a hard time gaining mainstream acceptance. PC vendors aren’t will to shell out the extra cash required to install Thunderbolt controllers on their computers. USB simply offers greater compatibility at a cheaper price and therefore I think it’ll ultimately win the hearts of millions of consumers. I predict Thunderbolt will remain relegated to Macs while USB 3.1 will gain acceptance and may even eventually eclipse Thunderbolt as the de-facto standard for data transfer. You can read the official press release (PDF) that the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has released and decide for yourself. What do you think? Will USB 3.1 usurp Thunderbolt 2? Which do you prefer? Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Vonnie Hudson, tech writer at FixedByVonnie. All content on this site is provided with no warranties, express or implied. Use any information at your own risk. Always backup of your device and files before making any changes. Privacy policy info.