A group of seven industry leaders have announced that the target speed for USB 2.0 is 40 times faster than the existing USB 1.1. The revised speed, unveiled at the USB 2.0 developer conference, is 480 Megabits per second, according to the USB 2.0 promoter group.

The group consists of Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent, Microsoft, Philips and NEC. The announcement of this target speed coincides with the release of the USB 2.0 specification draft to industry developers.

The release of draft specs for USB 2.0 means vendors can begin product planning and development of future USB 2.0 products. Jim Pappas, director of Intel's technology initiatives team said: "We can achieve 480Mbps while still maintaining full compatibility with USB 1.1." USB 2.0 will be fully forward- and backward-compatible with current USB systems and peripherals, we are promised.

It is expected that the revised bandwidth of USB 2.0 opens the door for a wide variety of peripherals - such as higher res video cameras, next generation printers and scanners, and fast external storage units. Data back-up will be far quicker - users can expect to back-up 1GB of data in less than a minute on USB 2.0, against half an hour on USB 1.1.

Final specs for the new standard are expected to be agreed in the first quarter of 2000.