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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 News.com, “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 News.com, “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: Intel got it right...
By FITCamaro on 6/9/2008 12:52:33 PM , Rating: 2
Honestly for what I use USB for, USB 2.0 is more than enough. I didn't even know they were developing USB 3.0.

I guess one potential use of this new spec is a new way to connect an external graphics card.


RE: Intel got it right...
By daftrok on 6/9/2008 2:05:06 PM , Rating: 1
Here are plenty of departments where USB 3.0 can be used for:
1) External Hard/Flash Drives (imagine the blazing speed)
2) Monitors (if the monitor had low enough power usage, that USB cable would be all you need for data and power)
3) Wired routers (no need for Ethernet cables)

Imagine USB 3.0 finally replacing Ethernet and VGA cables. Granted HDMI is still faster and I doubt USB 3.0 can handle 2560x1600 monitors, but still, its a step in the right direction.


RE: Intel got it right...
By PrinceGaz on 6/9/2008 2:48:11 PM , Rating: 2
Imagine USB 3.0 replacing Ethernet? No thanks. USB is fine for many tasks, but for reliable and robust network connections I'll stick with ethernet which is designed specifically for that purpose.

Honestly, is there anyone here who would willingly choose to connect a router or modem using USB instead of ethernet, if they had the option of using either?


RE: Intel got it right...
By JonnyDough on 6/10/2008 6:14:21 AM , Rating: 2
To answer your stupid question, if it was faster than Ethernet (10GB ethernet anyway) and just as secure and reliable? Youbetcha.


RE: Intel got it right...
By mallums on 6/9/2008 2:58:58 PM , Rating: 3
USB of any stripe won't replace Ethernet. Ethernet works for long distances, USB only for short ones. USB 3.0 is an optical cable standard (with a copper alternative allowed) and, while you could hook a router to a computer within three feet of each other, you still need Ethernet for the whole building.


RE: Intel got it right...
By larson0699 on 6/9/2008 3:08:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think your expectations are a bit high.

ATA drives will always be bottlenecked by the USB adapter; just go eSATA (if it's that important to you, you'll have the motherboard for it... and more come equipped every quarter)

Likewise, flash will only perform to the abilities of NAND, and while the sky is falling with USB 2.0, I wouldn't expect anything near 5 Gbps in flash.

The monitor idea is just crazy. A fractional amp won't power but the smallest LCD.. like a PSP screen. Most embedded and server applications already integrate a dated ATI or XGI GPU through VGA, so good luck replacing that.

10-gigabit Ethernet . XbaseT is all too prevalent in the industry for these server rooms to just toss out their Ethernet cables and start over with USB. Not only would the less experienced admins be confused to hell between network cables and peripherals, but IIRC there is no defined networking standard for USB outside of ad-hoc which is OS-dependent anyway.

I simply don't understand the USB-IF's decision in scaling bandwidth between revisions of their own standard.

The AGP and PCI-E buses (respectively) were always scaled relatively, i.e., 2x, 4x, 8x / x1, x2, ... x32, which made it simple to determine which fit the application best (AGP 8x didn't catch on for a while for this reason)

Then we have USB 1.1, *20 = USB 2.0, *10 = USB 3.0. Why not just another 20 times for consistency? There's never too much bandwidth, unless of course the difficulty in designing the host controller rides on instability at high speeds. Then it's just a matter of "why bother?" There were a few high speed buses before USB 3.0, but it survives on its dominance if nothing else.


RE: Intel got it right...
By omnicronx on 6/9/2008 3:19:45 PM , Rating: 2
Most of your post seems bang on, except for this
quote:
ATA drives will always be bottlenecked by the USB adapter; just go eSATA (if it's that important to you, you'll have the motherboard for it... and more come equipped every quarter)
My guess is they are not calling it 'PCI EXPRESS OVER CABLE" for no reason. Previously USB had to travel through the motherboards chipset (usually the southbridge) which is what crippled the transfer speeds for ATA drives over USB. It sounds like USB 3 gets past this issue and has some sort of direct access to the PCI express lanes which would all but break any barriers previous versions of USB had.


RE: Intel got it right...
By larson0699 on 6/9/2008 3:41:20 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I think I overlooked that.

Bang on!


RE: Intel got it right...
By nitin213 on 6/9/2008 10:55:53 PM , Rating: 2
Well bang on as said in the other mail..
Though I don't think a fractional amp would power the PSP screen either.. for that matter any screen with a backlight...

Cheers,


RE: Intel got it right...
By Vinnybcfc on 6/10/2008 3:31:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then we have USB 1.1, *20 = USB 2.0, *10 = USB 3.0. Why not just another 20 times for consistency? There's never too much bandwidth, unless of course the difficulty in designing the host controller rides on instability at high speeds. Then it's just a matter of "why bother?" There were a few high speed buses before USB 3.0, but it survives on its dominance if nothing else.


Does it matter that it is consistant? The fastest possible speed at the lowest possible price is all that counts.

So you would not bother making a new bus if it isnt exactly the same leap as before?

quote:
ATA drives will always be bottlenecked by the USB adapter; just go eSATA (if it's that important to you, you'll have the motherboard for it... and more come equipped every quarter)


Thats assuming the USB 3 adapter will be bottlenecking the system, it is possible that they will improve it.


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