Kingston has announced the launch of its first USB 3.0-certified external solid-state drive. According to the company, the drive is aimed at PC enthusiasts, prosumers and professionals. And just to make sure that there is no doubt about the target demographic Kingston has lent the famous HyperX badge to the drive. When paired with a USB 3.0 compatible device, the HyperX Max External USB 3.0 drive is capable of a read speed of up to 195MB/s and a write speed of up to 160MB/s. The company will begin selling the drive in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities in December. However, it hasn’t disclosed any prices.
"The HyperX MAX 3.0 External USB 3.0 Drive follows the tradition of Kingston's HyperX enthusiast DRAM family providing users with premium quality and extreme performance," said Andrew Ewing, USB product manager, Kingston®. "In addition to portability and speed, users will be pleased with the durability of this drive. Its Flash memory-based architecture is designed for the rigors of mobile use."
The braggarts over at VIA are all too happy to announce that their company's VL750 USB 3.0 to NAND Flash Controller is the first in the world to receive certification from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF).
"SuperSpeed certification is an industry first that places us well ahead of the USB 3.0 pack," said Gibson Chen, Vice President of Sales at VIA Labs, Inc. "This quality certification combined with the market's broadest USB 3.0 product range, spanning host, hub, and device controllers, will assure our customers that we truly have the know-how to drive SuperSpeed in the mainstream."
Bless their hearts for thinking so, but until Intel equips its boards with native USB 3.0 support, any talk of USB 3.0 going mainstream is wishful thinking.
Regardless, VIA's VL750 chip features a 4-channel memory controller with interleaving support, and of course is backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
Notebook players predict that it will be at least another year before USB 3.0 becomes commonplace on laptops. Citing sources purportedly in the know, DigiTimes says that both the cost and performance stability of existing USB 3.0 chips are preventing faster adoption, not to mention market acceptance in general.
If you look around, you'll spot a handful of laptops with at least one USB 3.0 port, though these are the exception and not the rule. NEC, which pretty much owns the USB 3.0 market, charges about $4 to $5 for its chip. That doesn't sound so horrible, but when combined with cost increases for several other components, things quickly start to add up. And since notebook vendors don't detect an urgent demand for the technology, it's easier to just stick with USB 2.0.
What do you think about this strategy? Would you pay a little extra for USB 3.0 on your notebook, or could you care less about the SuperSpeed spec at this point?
Before you go feeling sorry for yourself over the slow rollout of USB 3.0 for Windows-based PCs, consider that our brethren over on the Mac side of the pond have it worse off than we do. At least we have NEC filling in the gap.
Much of the holdup is due to Intel dragging its feat, and should Mac users get USB 3.0 support before we do, it would be the ultimate slap in the face. Don't lose any sleep over it. As reported on 9to5Mac.com, Steve Jobs shot down the notion of the SuperSpeed spec coming to the Mac anytime soon.
"We don't see USB 3 taking off at this time. No support from Intel, for example," Jobs wrote in an email reply asking why customers can't buy Macs with USB 3.0.
So there you have it. The next time you come across a Mac user, whip out your USB 3.0 flash drive and quote Daniel Tosh.
Kudos to Super Talent for jumping on the USB 3.0 bandwagon without price gouging, as is all too often the case with new (or in this case, relatively new) technologies.
For $14, you can pick up Super Talent's 8GB Express Duo flash drive with support for USB 3.0. Transfer rates check in at over 67MB/s, and of course it's backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (with a read speed around 32MB/s).
"The USB 3.0 Express Duo is perhaps our most exciting USB 3.0 flash drive to date. We were first to break the 300MB/s barrier with our USB 3.0 RAIDDrive and now we're breaking the $15 price barrier. There's simply no reason to buy a USB 2.0 flash drive anymore," said CH Lee, COO of Super Talent."
Super Talent is also selling a 16GB version of the Express Duo for $29. Check out the benchmarking video below.
We've been pretty critical of Intel's lackadaisical attitude when it comes to adding USB 3.0 support to its chipsets, instead leaving it up to board makers to solder third-party SuperSpeed solutions from the likes of NEC. That's about to change, says DigiTimes, which is reporting that Intel has begun prepping its partners on what's going on with Chief River.
Chief River is the codename for Intel's next-generation notebook platform, and according to reports, it includes native support for USB 3.0. The upshot is that these boards should be cheaper to produce than ones with third-party chips, and Intel's decision to finally support the spec should kickstart USB 3.0 development.
USB 3.0 is backwards compatible with USB 2.0, so your old devices will still work. But unlike the previous spec, USB 3.0 offers significantly higher transfer rates and new power management features. See our "Everything You Need to Know About USB 3.0" write-up for an in-depth look at what this spec brings to the table.
USB 3.0 product announcements are coming thick and fast these days. The latest is brought to you by the world's largest PC maker Hewlett-Packard, which has announced a pocket-size USB 3.0 external HDD that promises to outstrip USB 2.0 drives with a threefold performance boost. As the current abundance of USB 2.0 ports necessitates, HP has made its USB 3.0 external HDD backwards compatible. Weighing 200gm and measuring 4.47″ L x 3.15″ W x 0.75″ H, the drive is available in 500GB, 750GB, and 1TB capacities, costing $79, $99 and $129, respectively. HP is offering a two-year warranty on the drive.
Don't read any further until you've grabbed something squishy that you can chuck across the room without fear of breaking something or putting someone's eye out. We'll wait. Ready?
According to reports -- and you can get in the throwing position now -- Intel announced it won't be installing native USB 3.0 support into its chipsets until 2012. That's according to TechOn, who claims to have heard this from an Intel engineer at IDF. And if that weren't enough, Intel rubs a barrel full of salt and ground up chili peppers into the wound by fully recognizing how big of a role the chip maker's participation will play in promoting USB 3.0 devices.
"For example, the market for USB 3.0 peripheral devices will explode," the engineer said, referring to the SuperSpeed spec becoming a standard feature once Intel throws its weight behind it.
The engineer's statements run counter to previous reports that Intel would get behind the SuperSpeed spec sometime in 2011, and at this point, it's really anyone's guess as to when the world's No. 1 chip maker will get on board. In the mean time, expect to see companies like NEC continue to push their third-party USB 3.0 host controller chips.
We've been pretty critical over Intel's decision to delay the adoption of USB 3.0, thus ensuring another generation of USB 2.0 products before we step forward to the faster the spec. Unfortunately, Intel's move appears contagious and we've received word that several IC makers are delaying the rollout of USB 3.0 chips too.
These include Taiwan-based IC design houses ASMedia Technology (a subsidiary of Asus), VIA Labs (a subsidiary of VIA), and Etron Technology, plus one U.S.-based firm, Fresco Logic. All four design houses had grand plans of implementing USB 3.0 chips onto motherboards by the end of 2010, but none of them have yet passed certification by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF).
According to some Taiwan-based motherboard makers, IC design houses have been sending out buggy USB 3.0 samples that are basically unusable. The challenge for these chip makers comes not only in terms of hardware, but in developing their own software since Windows 7 doesn't natively support USB 3.0.
It's not all bad news, though. NEC continues to supply USB 3.0 parts, like the ones found on boards built around AMD's 890FX chipset, and Intel is reportedly slapping the SuperSpeed spec onto its upcoming Cougar Point chipset for desktops using Sandy Bridge CPUs. These could ship as soon as November.
The USB 3.0 SuperSpeed spec really is all that and a bag of Baked Lays (unless you're not a fan of Baked Lays, in which case insert your own awesome variety of chips). For starters, USB 3.0 crushes USB 2.0 in maximum theoretical transfer rates at up to 4.8Gb/s versus 480Mb/s. But speed isn't the only benefit. The SuperSpeed spec supports full-duplex data transfers, delivers more power to devices, and allows for longer cable runs. And best off, it's backwards compatible with USB 2.0.
So why the frak aren't we seeing USB 3.0 all over the place? Blame it on Intel, the world's No. 1 chip maker who happens to be dragging its feet in supporting the new spec. The only way you'll find USB 3.0 on boards now is through a third-party chip, primarily from NEC.
That's about to change. According to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report, Intel is expected to announce its own USB 3.0 host controller for its Couger Point motherboard reference design at the upcoming Intel Developer Forum (IDF).
Once Intel makes the announcement, you can expect USB 3.0 devices to start barreling through the market. We've already seen a handful of SuperSpeed products pushed through the mainstream pipeline, but by this time next year, the USB 3.0 landscape should look decidedly different.