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AMD and NVIDIA say Intel won't share its USB 3.0 open host controller specs

The USB 3.0 specification is expected to be out in 2009 and will significantly upgrade the bandwidth of the current USB 2.0 ports and products that all computer users are familiar with. The body responsible for the support and promotion of the USB specifications going back to USB 1.1 is the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF).

The USB-IF was founded by Intel in 1995 along with other industry players including Microsoft, HP, Texas Instruments, NEC and NXP Semiconductors. Currently, the USB-IF and its members are working to bring the USB 3.0 specification to market. USB 3.0 is also being called “PCI Express over cable” because the USB 3.0 specification uses intellectual property that was sourced from the PCI SIG. USB 3.0 will increase the bandwidth offered by USB 2.0 by 10 times with a data throughput of about 5 gigabits per second.

Despite the fact that much of the intellectual property behind the USB 3.0 specification wasn’t developed by Intel, AMD and NVIDIA both assert that Intel is keeping crucial information concerning the open host controller to itself. According to NVIDIA and AMD, Intel has working silicon, meaning the open host controller portion is mature and working, yet Intel is refusing to give the specifications to other processor and chipset makers.

AMD and NVIDIA say that by withholding the open host controller specifications that Intel is basically giving itself a market advantage of six to nine months because of the time lag between receiving the host controller specifications by other CPU and chipset makers and getting product to the marketplace.

An Intel source told, “Intel only gives it [open host controller specifications] out once it's finished. And it's not finished. If it was mature enough to release, it would be released. If you have an incomplete spec and give it out to people, these people will build their chipsets and you'll end up with chipsets that are incompatible with devices. That's what (Intel) is trying to avoid."

The Intel source continued saying, “[Intel is] a little bit behind and that's what might be causing some of the resentment. You could take the opinion that Intel is giving stuff out for free and people are complaining because (Intel) isn't giving it out fast enough.”

If Intel feels that AMD and NVIDIA aren’t willing to do the hard work of developing the open host controller for USB 3.0 themselves, it may be very mistaken. AMD and NVIDIA say they are going to develop their own open host controller for USB 3.0. Both firms point out that developing a separate open host controller could very well mean incompatibilities between USB 3.0 controllers and products.

An AMD source told, “We are starting development on it [open host controller] right now.” An NVIDIA source says the first meeting of the alternate open host controller specification is set for next week and adds, "We fully intend to productize this spec.”

Intel maintains that it is not withholding the specification and that it will provide the details for the open host controller when it is complete.

Intel is in hot water already for some of its business practices. The FTC announced last week that it will investigate whether Intel has abused its market position to stifle competition.

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RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Homerboy on 6/9/2008 12:05:21 PM , Rating: 5
Even if they did that, they would still be the odd-man out. the numbers of Intel based MBs out there, no matter what, is going to GREATLY out number those of NV/AMD combined. Think of the millions and millions of business PCs from Dell and HP alone, not to mention those sold to homes for personal use.

Intel holds the cards by sheer numbers alone.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 12:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
AMD proved this isn't nessearly true, look at the unofficial itantic v. x64 battle. It is possible to beat intel with a very desirable product... Of course I'm not suggesting they should *try* to make their product incompatible, but with a number of different companies working on a host controller spec, it's going to happen.

Another benificial side effect of AMD + nVidia working together is it should reduce the number of incompatibilities customers will have to deal with.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By MPE on 6/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 12:26:03 PM , Rating: 2
When itanic was released Intel announced their full intention to bring the technology to the main stream, the best way to do this was to start in the enterprise world due to abysmal x86 compatibilty. Until x64 came out it seemed to be going intel's way, they got a Windows OS to support it, they started getting some enterprise software on it... And then x64 came out giving consumers and enterprise customers alike 64bit with out all the hassle.

Now yes, the situation is different here a smidge, but the fact remains having the same host controller spec puts AMD and nVidia in the best possible place. What they do have going for them is the fact that their products are usually used for premium systems (in the home sector), i.e. if you want a little more powerful "pedestrian" desktop you go with AMD or nVidia and their integrated solutions. If they share host controller functionality they might be able to convince manufuactures to just start using their chipsets more in lue of intel.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Strunf on 6/9/2008 1:06:49 PM , Rating: 2
Itanic was a failure since day 1... we didn't need Windows X64 to know that, no one expected a far inferior product in real world tasks to now change all our habits, Intel just learned the hard way that people don't like changes.

here is a completely different matter, Intel is part of the USB-IF and a big part of it, do you really think some outsiders that don't even are the major players on the OEM market would have enough power to shift it towards them rather than to Intel? Besides as I read it Intel would release its product at the same time as them, and NEC, HP and TI are other key players that will use the same specs as Intel.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 1:19:47 PM , Rating: 5
No it wasn't, in fact i remember when it was a hotly anticpipated product and I also remember a lot of industry buzz about getting rid of the complicated x86 instruction set finally (many thought the wrong side won in risc v. cisc), there were a lot of factors involved in the demise of itanic, but the fact is x64 made the failure inevitable, when otherwise it may well have been a long term success which is what Intel had been planning since day one.

Anyway, back on topic... AMD and nVidia are much better off developing their host controller together. You can either have 2 seperate host controllers that are potientially incompatiable with eachother, or you can have 3 leaving AMD and nVidia on their own to abosorbe the impact of the broken controller. At least together they can share the burden which is a great thing for both companies, as neither has intel's resources to deal with USB implementation issues and all the products they actually *WANT* to be developing.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By DigitalFreak on 6/9/08, Rating: -1
By eye smite on 6/9/2008 3:44:25 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like I said a few weeks ago, any partnership between nvidia and amd that they maintain or develope new will benefit both companies. I guess we'll just have to watch and see.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By RamarC on 6/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 3:57:26 PM , Rating: 3
Incorrect, Intel from the outset planned on replacing x86 with itanium arch, I followed this chip from the first rumors about it.

By RamarC on 6/9/2008 4:25:14 PM , Rating: 1
get your facts straight. hp and intel PARTNERED to produce itanium to compete in the enterprise realm. as with any new technology, they *speculated* that it could replace any class processor, but intel NEVER stopped their bread-and-butter x86 research/design/development. intel pursued the ia-64 architecture because hp was splitting funding costs and got other RISC manufacturers to dump their chip development for ia-64.

"HP determined that it was no longer cost-effective for individual enterprise systems companies such as itself to develop proprietary microprocessors, so HP partnered with Intel in 1994 to develop the IA-64 architecture, which derived from EPIC. Intel was willing to undertake a very large development effort on IA-64 in the expectation that the resulting microprocessor would be used by the majority of the enterprise systems manufacturers. HP and Intel initiated a large joint development effort with a goal of delivering the first product, codenamed Merced, in 1998.[4]

During development, Intel, HP, and industry analysts predicted that IA-64 would dominate in servers, workstations, and high-end desktops, and eventually supplant RISC and complex instruction set computer (CISC) architectures for all general-purpose applications. Compaq and Silicon Graphics decided to abandon further development of the Alpha and MIPS architectures respectively in favor of migrating to IA-64."

By omnicronx on 6/9/2008 12:40:18 PM , Rating: 2
You all seem to be missing that AMD and Nvidia can benefit much more from such a controller. I don't think AMD and Nvidia would be making such a big deal about this if they do not have external products already in mind. External Videocards come to mind. I could easily see everyone dropping the Intel spec in favor for something that is actually going to see use on a massive scale, instead of just increased external hard drive speeds, which are still limited by the hard drives themselves =P.

By jconan on 6/9/2008 8:33:17 PM , Rating: 2
That's if AMD and NV publish their specifiations for OHC first before Intel does for early adoption. That would bring early adopters to develop for AMD/NV spec rather then Intel leaving Intel as the odd man out.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By tastyratz on 6/9/2008 12:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
the last thing Amd needs right now is another reason for people to single them out. They wouldn't get a leg up by making a proprietary interface limited to a small market percentage. They would simply kill sales when a low number of hardware peripherals are released compatible with Amd.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 12:36:54 PM , Rating: 2
on the otherhand by making them selves (similarly for nvidia) the odd men out when compared to Intel they're just asking for trouble... Either they don't have USB 3.0 (amd phenoms have enough market challenges as it is) or they have a USB 3.0 implenetation with potential side effects between intel and nvidia implementations.

nVidia and AMD minimize both development cost related risks as well as market perception risks by using the same host controller ensuring that whether customers by amd or nvidia the same set of devices work properly with out issue.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By omnicronx on 6/9/2008 12:53:29 PM , Rating: 3
All that AMD and NVidia said is that they are developing their own implementation, for all we know this could mean that it will be able to go above and beyond the USB3 spec, although it will be fully compatible with Intels implementation, once it is complete of course.

By Locutus465 on 6/9/2008 1:21:52 PM , Rating: 2
in theory, in practice I expect bugs and other issues to rear their ugly heads... This will cause real world incompatibilities where in theory non should exist. If they share then at least AMD and nVidia share the same bug set, and split the costs of fixing them.

RE: If nvidia and amd were smart...
By Klober on 6/10/2008 12:14:31 PM , Rating: 3
So you can get your facts straight, just because the PCs are sold by Dell/HP/whoever doesn't mean they're all Intel based. And even the ones that are Intel processor based aren't necessarily Intel chipset based. Look at many of the Dell systems - XPS in particular - you guessed it, nForce motherboards. I used to work for Dell, trust me, there are tons of non-Intel based motherboards in the market, both business and consumer. AMD and nVidia are doing this to force Intel's cooperation, and most likely they'll end up succeeding. If for no other reason it will be because of pressure from OEM PC builders who don't want their products, built with varying chipset motherboards, to have separate compatibility issues with peripherals.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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