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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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RE: I'm confused at this point.
By DanNeely on 4/14/2011 3:25:28 PM , Rating: 3
USB is a cheap bus for devices where cost is more important than average and peak latency levels. To keep costs down USB devices and mobo controllers are as dumb as bags of hammers, instead the CPU is require to do everything. Because the CPU has lots of other duties it can't respond as quickly or at as consistant a rate as a dedicated contoller.

Firewire, eSata, and Thunderbolt all provide much lower and more consistent latency levels to attached devices. To do this they all rely on dedicated controllers with things like DMA support so that they can transfer data without bothering the CPU. Firewire added ~$10 to the retail cost of a PC/device for the controller. eSata is essentially free since in most cases it simply provided a direct bridge between the already existent sata controllers on the HD and mobo chipset. Thunderbolt is an external PCIe bus, bundled with a display port video link. As long as it's tapping into PCIe lanes/video outs from the chipset it's essentially free to implement on the PC side. How much of a premium it will end up adding to devices is TBD; but it's very unlikely its controller will ever be as cheap as USB, so it will probably remain a niche interface for high end devices.


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