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PLX unveils USB 3.0-to-SATA controllers

Posted: 19 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB 3.0? storage controllers? direct-attached storage?

PLX Technology Inc. announced that it will begin in June full production of a pair of direct-attached storage (DAS) SuperSpeed USB 3.0-to-SATA controllers for wired external consumer storage drives.

According to PLX, the OXU3110 and OXU3111 DAS controllers are optimized for bus-powered applications and are targeted at OEM storage designers who are looking for controllers with superior performance, minimal footprint and low power use. PLX added that the devices are compliant with the USB-IF SuperSpeed specification.

The OXU3110 DAS controller's features include fast read throughput at 265MB/s, a 6mm x 6mm QFN package, and requires only 479mW typical power. The device requires a minimum number of external components (only a single external crystal is needed). Embedded in the OXU3110 are a USB 3.0/2.0 PHY and device controller, SATA II PHY, internal voltage regulator, and masked program ROM supporting non-differentiated applications. The OXU3111 (521mW typical power) offers all the features of the OXU3110 and adds an integrated cipher engine, which provides advanced encryption and decryption capabilities in the hardware, enabling designers to deploy full disk encryption solutions at a faster rate.

David Raun, PLX vice-president of marketing and business development, said the release of the product is timely as the company sees that USB 3.0 will account for more than 60 percent of the total USB hard drives in 2011 and is forecast to grow to more than 80 percent in 2012.

"This rapid growth can be attributed to USB 3.0 drives delivering up to 140 megabytes per second performance, compared to roughly 30 megabytes a second from USB 2.0 drives, meaning a one-terabyte drive swiftly being copied in one-quarter the time," Raun said.

"With continually growing libraries of large data files such as video, digital photos and music, consumers will find this newfound performance very appealing," Raun added. Tom Coughlin, founder and president of data-storage research firm Coughlin Associates, said that while DAS might be overlooked in the storage landscape due to the popularity of cloud storage and network-attached storage, DAS would continue to be around.

The embedded USB 3.0 PHY in the OXU311x devices supports SuperSpeed, High Speed and Full Speed USB modes, using either bulk-only transport Mass Storage Class device protocol or the new USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP). According to PLX, the OXU311x's fast read and write transfers ensure that the maximum-possible host performance is maintained. The embedded 3GHz SATA host interfaces support the latest revisions of the SATA II specification. Interface speeds of 3GHz and 1.5GHz deliver optimal performance with minimum latency for external SATA storage.

All PLX DAS controllers are supported by a comprehensive support package that includes evaluation boards, reference designs, software development kit (SDK) and PLX's exclusive ISIS-branded toolkit. The ISIS toolkit provides designers a self-contained virtual help desk with easy access to device and firmware configurations, thus simplifying encryption settings, RAID configuration, power settings, and HDD monitoring. Additionally, the ISIS toolkit includes an end-user tool named Gateway for simple administration of passwords in secure systems, as well as a single-click "in-field" firmware update utility.

Pricing for the OXU3110 and OXU3111 (with encryption) ranges from US$1.50 to US$2.00 in large volumes. Development kit samples are now available.

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