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SuperSpeed USB products get go signal

Posted: 16 Sep 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB 3.0? SuperSpeed USB? interconnect?

The USB Implementer's Forum (USB-IF) has certified nearly 120 products that comply with the USB 3.0 specification. Also known as SuperSpeed USB, the specification upgrades USB's data rates from a maximum of 480Mbit/s to 5GigaTransfers/second. The certified products include motherboards, notebooks, external storage devices, storage controllers, hard disk drives, PCI Express and ExpressCard add-in cards and standalone chips.

"Since the first certified SuperSpeed USB product was announced last year at IDF 2009, we have witnessed exponential growth in the ecosystem," said Jeff Ravencraft, president and chairman, USB-IF.

The certified products are made by companies such as Asustek, Buffalo, D-Link, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, PLX, Texas Instruments, Samsung and Western Digital.

According to Ravencraft, the development of the technology is driven by the user-scenario of a "fast synch and go" feature, but engineers are also working on a variety of uses for it.

NEC, now part of Renasas, said in March it had shipped three million USB 3.0 controllers and is now on track to ship 20 million chips this year. Taiwan's Gigabyte said it shipped a million motherboards supporting SuperSpeed USB in Q1 2010 and expects to ship more than five million this year, said Ravencraft.

Market watcher In-Stat said it expects nearly 4.5 billion USB ports will ship in 2014, more than a billion of them supporting the version 3.0 spec.

The arrival of USB 3.0 has been frustratingly slow. At the 2009 Intel Developer Forum, Intel demonstrated Light Peak, an optical interconnect expected to be a sort of USB 4.0+. That distracted attention away from the first certified USB 3.0 products. At that time Intel delayed its plans to support USB 3.0 in its chipsets, putting off until 2011 or 2012 a mainstream market for USB 3.0 peripherals. Also, Dadi Perlmutter, general manager of the Intel Architecture group, declined to say at that time if Intel's 2011 chipsets would support USB 3.0.

This year, sources said Intel would not approve the the version 1.0 of the USB 3.0 external host controller spec until this summer. That riled many peripheral and systems companies who said the external controllers and related products could have started shipping in 2009. The products based on external host controllers are starting to flow now.

Vendors including DisplayLink, Fujitsu, the merged Renesas/NEC, Texas Instruments and SMSC are expected to show chips for the new USB 3.0 spec, with the initial products focusing on storage.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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