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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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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.

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