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Native support for USB 3.0 coming
Intel support coming next year, AMD support much sooner

There are a number of notebooks on the market today that have USB 3.0 ports onboard. HP unveiled several new notebooks this week that that have USB 3.0 for example. However, all of the notebooks and desktops on the market today have to use a third-party USB 3.0 controller because AMD and Intel don’t support the standard natively. That is all about to change though.

AMD has announced that it has new chipsets that will be the first to integrated USB 3.0 support. AMD's Phil Hughes told CNET News, "With [today's] announcement AMD is...disclosing our support for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 in upcoming AMD A75 and A70M Fusion [chipsets]. Both chipsets are shipping today."

It has taken long enough for major chipmakers to support USB 3.0 and with this announcement perhaps more companies will start to offer peripherals and gear that takes advantage of the port. There are some products on the market already that support USB 3.0, but nowhere near the vast and varied product types that use USB 2.0.

Analyst Brian O'Rourke from In-Stat said, "In order for the rippling effect to happen with USB 3.0 it has to hit in PCs and for it to hit in PCs it has to be integrated into the chipset. AMD is not Intel, but it's probably the next best thing in chipsets."  He continued saying, "The only peripheral devices with USB 3.0 out there right now are external hard drives and a few flash drives. Why? There aren't any peripheral controllers for USB 3.0 in general release yet. Not any out there on the market yet."

While AMD has its chipsets shipping already with support for USB 3.0, support from AMD rival Intel is still a ways off. Intel has been pushing support for Thunderbolt along with Apple and a few other companies. Thunderbolt is positioned by Intel as a complement to USB 3.0; not a replacement.

Intel has now announced that support for both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt will come in the same chipsets sometime in 2012. Native support for Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 will land in the Intel Ivy Bridge chipset.

Intel currently offers support for USB 3.0 in some of its desktop mainboards, but that support comes by way of the NEC USB 3.0 chips.



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By Amiga500 on 4/14/2011 11:35:26 AM , Rating: 4
No.

Therefore it does not complement it - it is in competition for the same real-estate on my case or laptop.

No doubt it comes with a substantial "Intel tax".




By semo on 4/14/2011 12:39:36 PM , Rating: 3
It is just a traffic aggregator. Without a USB 3.0 chip on either end there wouldn't be any way of encoding/decoding and tx/rx USB data over thunderbolt. It can be seen as competition on the mechanical interface side but I doubt that there will be many devices that support USB 3.0 but do not provide a USB 3.0 slot.


By DanNeely on 4/14/2011 1:31:34 PM , Rating: 3
It compliments USB3 in the same way that FireWire400 complimented USB2. It was a marginally faster connection with much higher QoS levels. Prior to eSATA it had a fair of consumer use in external HDs, after that it mostly fell back to pro stuff like pro audio gear where USB's latency and variable bandwidth levels rendered it unacceptable.

Thunderbolt will probably displace firewire from its remaining applications, and add a few nitch ones of its own. Possibly video editing. Possibly better external GPUs. USB3's bandwidth is high enough to make a monitor dongle feasible, but TB will be 2-3x faster (which will matter for anyone gaming on it, with GTX2xx generation hardware a 1x connection averaged a 30% FPS penalty). Also, since it looks just like a 1 lane PCIe bus it will be cheaper for the hardware makers to make external video adapters using it.


By FaaR on 4/14/2011 3:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
It doesn't compete with USB ports for real-estate on a portable's case, TB uses the same connector as mini displayport (and includes displayport functionality in the same plug), so not only do you NOT lose any real-estate to an additional connector, you GAIN additional functionality and bandwidth.

Win-win!

Oh, and as for intel tax, I believe TB is royalty-free to use as well (like displayport in of itself is).


By B3an on 4/15/2011 6:29:22 AM , Rating: 1
You're exactly correct, and it's surprising how little others know about Thunderbolt on here. USB should be the one to die, not TB. With TB you'll only need one connector that does it all and has support for electrical + optical cables so it's speed can scale far beyond USB ever could.


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