USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA are both getting speed
increases this year in an unusual two-for-one special. USB 3.0
introduces the SuperSpeed mode, which provides raw throughput of 5
Gbps versus the measly 480 Mbps of USB 2.0. The USB interface uses
8b10 encoding, so with overhead USB 3.0 will top out at around 400 MB/s.
This standard will quickly be adopted by USB
flash drives and digital cameras due to the large amounts of data
The case for 6 Gbps SATA isn't as strong, unless
you're into Solid State Drives. While Seagate
has shipped the world's first hard drive to support the new
standard, it uses magnetic storage and is only able to use the extra
bandwidth when reading from cache. However, SSDs have been bandwidth
limited since early this year, and SSDs supporting the new interface
should have transfer speeds over 500 MB/s.
ASUS and Gigabyte
were both showing off motherboards supporting USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA
during the Computex trade show in June. They both announced several
motherboards last week, and the boards are available in volume. All
of these boards use NEC's
USB 3.0 host interface controller introduced in June.
is now shipping the P7P55D-E Premium using Intel's P55 chipset and
the P6X58D Premium using the X58 chipset. The P55 chipset only
supports the first generation of PCIe with single lane bandwidth of
250 MB/s, so ASUS uses a PLX8613 bridge chip and four PCIe lanes to
optimize the throughput potential of the new interfaces.
company is also making its U3S6 expansion card available for all
P7P55D series motherboards. It will plug into a PCIe x4 or x8
connector and add two USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA ports.
is also shipping seven motherboards in its P55A series supporting the
new technologies. They have decided against using a bridge chip, but
their implementation means you will be unable to use a second PCIe
x16 slot for CrossFire or SLI.
Meanwhile, problems at Intel
new chipsets that will use these new technologies until the
beginning of 2011. Solutions from motherboard manufacturers will have
to do for now.