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.