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(Click to enlarge)
E-tail availability in two weeks

ASUS started shipping the first motherboards with support for the USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA interfaces two months ago at the beginning of November. The first mobos were targeted at enthusiasts, but soon made their way into the mainstream. Gigabyte followed suit, and shipped seven new motherboards with support for the new interfaces as well.

At that time, ASUS told DailyTech that it was developing a PCIe adapter for all of its motherboard customers who wanted to upgrade to the new standards. The U3S6 card would plug into a PCIe x4 or x8 connector and add two USB 3.0 and two 6Gbps SATA ports to an ASUS system. 

The company has now informed us that development and testing on the new U3S6 card has finished, and mass production has started. It will begin shipping to the channel next week, with e-tail availability expected for two weeks from now. Best of all, the U3S6 card will go on sale with a retail price of only $30.

Although ASUS has only officially validated the add-in card on their motherboards, there should be no problems encountered by customers wishing to use the adapter card on motherboards made by other brands, since the U3S6 complies fully with the PCIe specifications.

There will be plenty of new devices available soon over the next few months, including Crucial's superfast C300 RealSSD and Super Talent's USB 3.0 flash drive. If you need more USB 3.0 ports, a new hub using VIA's Hub Controller may be an option.


Live updates from CES are available via Twitter.


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Not bad, not great
By dragunover on 1/7/2010 10:20:06 PM , Rating: 0
While it is a good price, only 2x USB & SATA ports onboard. Also, a concern is the size of the PCB, which means SATA ports will be dragged over the motherboard... Entangling cable management further than necessary.




RE: Not bad, not great
By afkrotch on 1/7/2010 10:32:15 PM , Rating: 4
For $30, I can't believe is has 2x USB and 2x SATA. I figured it'd just be 2x USB.

Also depending on location of where you put the board, cable management shouldn't be all that big of a deal. I can place the card right next to the SATA ports that are on the mobo.


RE: Not bad, not great
By Mitch101 on 1/8/2010 9:09:57 AM , Rating: 2
Not a bad deal and the external USB 3.0 cases for drives look to be $10.00 more than the USB 2.0 ones.


RE: Not bad, not great
By chizow on 1/7/2010 10:35:30 PM , Rating: 4
Its not any different in terms of wiring/cable management as an internal RAID controller at a fraction of the price. Most software SATA controllers hold up quite well in 2-drive RAID 0 configs compared to pricy hardware RAID controllers, so this would be perfect for a pair of SATA 6 SSDs (Crucial's newly announced RealSSD come to mind).

Also, the USB 3 ports would also be saved for any USB 3 devices you have, which means the actual device controller interface and interconnects needs to support USB 3. Most modern 7200RPM IDE drives will benefit immediately from the increased bandwidth from USB 3.0, as USB 2.0 has been a significant bottleneck for quite some time.

The bigger concern imo is the use of x4 PCIe lanes may drop graphics bandwidth to x8/x8 for multi-GPU on certain boards. Its not as big a deal now as most graphics cards don't show too much performance degradation from x16 to x8, which again, makes this card a perfect stop-gap solution until SATA 6 and USB 3.0 are supported natively on the next-gen of Intel/AMD chipsets.


RE: Not bad, not great
By mindless1 on 1/7/2010 10:55:33 PM , Rating: 4
Nonsense. Cable management was so easy it was ridiculous even back in the days of doing PATA RAID.

What you /meant/ was it isn't esthetically pretty and neat to you but a computer does not care if you think it is pretty.

People who obsess about how their cables look = anal retentive.


RE: Not bad, not great
By Samus on 1/8/10, Rating: 0
RE: Not bad, not great
By Mitch101 on 1/8/2010 9:16:38 AM , Rating: 2
What is esthetically unpleasant to me is that external 3.5" drives still need a power brick. I do wish is that they could get enough current down the USB so my 3.5" external drives wouldn't need to have the power adapter any more but I guess that will be USB 4.0.


RE: Not bad, not great
By ebaycj on 1/8/2010 11:29:37 AM , Rating: 2
That will not happen unless the cable spec is changed drastically.


RE: Not bad, not great
By Ryanman on 1/8/2010 11:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
Some manufacturers make it so you can just use 2 USB ports. I wish every external drive had this option, as I have more ports than I know what to do with.


RE: Not bad, not great
By fatedtodie on 1/13/2010 2:48:45 PM , Rating: 2
For laptop drives this is easy.

For desktop drives that require more power this is not so easy.

The "2 usb" drives are all laptop drives.

So it has nothing to do with the manufacturer, it has to do with what the specs of USB support, and they do not support a fullsize hard drive.


RE: Not bad, not great
By chizow on 1/8/2010 11:21:38 PM , Rating: 2
USB 3.0 does increase power delivery through the port, from 100mA per unit to 150mA per unit. Configured devices will also be able to draw up to 6 units of power, so 900mA of power. Is your external 3.5" drive USB 3.0 or USB 2.0?

The interface itself needs to support the spec as there are additional interconnects that deliver the additional bandwidth and power delivery capabilities of USB 3.0, otherwise the drive will drop down to USB 2.0 performance.


RE: Not bad, not great
By blowfish on 2/4/2010 12:21:21 AM , Rating: 2
just use an eSATA card, the type that also has a molex to eSATA power connector, so you can do away with the brick. I just got one for $2:99 shipped and it works a treat. And if you want to be completely minimalist, no need for an enclosure for your external drive either.


RE: Not bad, not great
By rburnham on 1/12/2010 10:12:12 AM , Rating: 2
Well, the messiness of cables can impact air flow inside the case. So a neat case interior can help in that regard.


RE: Not bad, not great
By blowfish on 2/4/2010 12:24:46 AM , Rating: 2
here here!

Tests have demonstrated that people using tidy internal cabling are 0.2% more productive, and achieve 0.36% higher frame rates in Crysis.


RE: Not bad, not great
By cruisin3style on 1/7/2010 11:07:32 PM , Rating: 2
I have a pci card with 2 external SATA ports (not eSATA, just SATA accessible external of case) and 2 internal SATA ports and you can only use 2 at a time, so

2 x internal SATA
2 x external SATA
1 x internal SATA, 1 x external SATA

I can't see any jumper pins in the picture like I have to switch on my card, but anyway I was just thinking I should mention this in case you can't use both USB ports and both SATA ports all at the same time on this card either.

Definitely something you will want to look into before purchase if that is your plan.


RE: Not bad, not great
By chizow on 1/7/2010 11:51:20 PM , Rating: 4
The provided picture shows very clearly 2 internal SATA 6 ports and 2 external USB 3.0 ports. There's no other pin-outs or connectors that would allow for additional expansion or connectivity, so there should be no concerns about using all 4 ports simultaneously.

The card itself shows a discrete controller for both USB 3.0 and SATA 6G along with a PLX bridge chip to handle PCIe traffic. PCIe 2.0 specs allow 500MB/s bandwidth for each x1 PCIe lane, so with an x4 slot you should have a max of 2GB/s which should be more than enough for 2xSATA 6G which can only saturate ~x1 worth of bandwidth @ 500MB/s each. That leaves ~1GB/s of bandwidth for the two USB 3.0 lanes which cap out at 3-4Gb/s, or 400-500MB/s max each.

Basically, each port gets x1 PCIe lanes or 500MB/s of bandwidth for itself so there's no reason to believe you can't populate all 4 ports with devices concurrently.


RE: Not bad, not great
By rainyday on 1/8/2010 4:08:40 AM , Rating: 2
nice card. but seriously, who's got a x4 slot? aint intel and motherboard manufacturers ruined it with x1 slot barrage?


RE: Not bad, not great
By semo on 1/8/2010 4:41:42 AM , Rating: 2
well in theory you can use the 1x slots if you file away the rear of the slot (the card should auto sync to 1x speeds). I tried this with a graphics card but it didn't work because i damaged 2 of the pins. If someone tries to do it, start filing away from the OUTSIDE of the slot. you never know it might work.

if you have a more expensive mobo then you can use your spare 8x or 16x slots and get full speed but as was already mentioned here that might drop your 16x slot to 8x electrically


RE: Not bad, not great
By clasme on 1/8/2010 9:17:05 AM , Rating: 2
If it was only 1x, you could get a bottleneck with heavy traffic on both controllers. So it being a 4x board is a very good thing. Also for motherboards without PCIe2.0 use of this board on a 1x would be somewhat slow with heavy traffic.

Those who are buying this is early adaptors, with higher demands. Most of them will have a 4x-slot on the motherboard - this with using a 4x/8x/16x "inteded" for a second videoboard.

I have this running on MSI P45-board that has a PCEe16x@8x, populated with this 4x board...


RE: Not bad, not great
By Taft12 on 1/8/2010 12:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, here's a newbie question that I'll bet a lot of others might not know either - can an x4 card like this one be put into a PCI-E x16 sized slot on a motherboard?

Some PCI-E x16 slots only have x4 bandwidth anyway (I think my 790X chipset board is like this...) which would be a good match if it does work this way. Can anyone confirm?


RE: Not bad, not great
By geddarkstorm on 1/8/2010 12:35:17 PM , Rating: 3
Yep.

Even a 1x PCIe card can be put in a 16x and work just fine (though you'd have anchoring issues). PCIe is fully compatible scaling up, so this "4x" board would only not work right with a 1x slot :P.


RE: Not bad, not great
By Murloc on 1/8/2010 3:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think that this card is designed with the Asus P7P55D motherboards in mind.
I don't remember well but the second 16x slot was not connected directly to the processor or something like that, and it could work as 4x without crippling the video card slot.

So it should be fine on asus motherboards. On other mobos you have to put it in a 16x slot and risk to get 8x/8x


RE: Not bad, not great
By chizow on 1/8/2010 11:28:16 PM , Rating: 2
Many boards do have x16 physical slots that are only x8 or x4 electrical. They use full x16 slots simply for physical connector compatibility concerns, as x16 slots allow for any sized card but allows it to drop down to lower x8 or x4 bandwidth. Cheaper versions do just cut out the back of the slot and only extend the plastic connector to match the actual electrical lanes.

Ideally, you wouldn't want to run this card in an x1 slot especially if you have individual drives that actually approach that 500MB/s provided by a single x1 PCIe link.


RE: Not bad, not great
By KING1986 on 1/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: Not bad, not great
By GaryJohnson on 1/8/2010 11:23:16 AM , Rating: 5
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