Intel may be content to wait until 2011 before jumping on the USB 3.0 bandwagon, but that isn't stopping third-party mobo makers from taking advantage of the SuperSpeed spec right now. Take Asus, for example, who has just launched a pair of motherboards the company claims features "true" USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s performance.
So what exactly is all this talk of 'true?' According to Asus, a special expansion bridge chip outfitted to its P7P55D and P7P55D-E series alleviates bandwidth constrictions for both the USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s controller chips, whereas other solutions might knock the theoretical bandwidth down by as much as 50 percent.
Other features of the new boards include CrossFireX and SLI support, eSATA, up to 10 USB 2.0 ports (and 2 USB 3.0 ports), Firewire, DDR3 2200 support, and full Windows 7 support.
Now that the spec has been finalized and controllers in mass production, we expect to see a lot of USB 3.0 devices in the coming weeks and months, particularly as companies look to brand their products as the "world's first" in their respective categories. Enter Dane-Elec, who claims its new line of external hard drives is the first to take advantage of the new spec (Freecom would disagree).
Plenty of storage options abound in the So SuperSpeed line, ranging in capacity from 500GB to 2TB. The series will also include Intel-branded USB 3.0 solid state drives (SSDs) with data transfer speeds of up to 250MB/s, Dane-Elec says. At full-bore, that's almost 10 times faster than currently available USB 2.0 devices.
Pricing for the new drives will start at $45 on the lower end and work its way up to $800. Catch a glimpse of the full lineup (with prices) here.
So much in life is unknowable. Will the economy rebound? Hard to say. Will oil prices skyrocket? Maybe, maybe not. Will Brangelina add to their brood? Frankly, we don’t care. But one thing’s for sure: Technology is ever-changing and each year guarantees new advances for the PC user.
As we do every year around this time, we got on the horn with our industry contacts—experts in their respective fields—and pressed them for details about what new and exciting hardware power users can look forward to in 2010. Some of what we learned was expected (SATA speeds will double), some came from out of left field (six 30-inch panels on a single videocard?!), and some just plain make sense (like a Nehalem chip for the masses).
Read on to find out how your personal computing landscape stands to be altered in the year ahead.
Buffalo, who has offices in Japan, USA, Germany, UK, Ireland, and Taiwan, is well on its way to being the first to release a USB 3.0 hard drive. On Tuesday, the networking and storage company said its HD-HU3 series of USB 3.0 external hard drives would be the "world's first" to ship to retailers, Engadget reports.
The company also plans to offer NEC's IFC-PCIE2U3 2-port PCI-Express x1 host controller because, well, what good is a USB 3.0 drive without a controller to take advantage of it?
But before we get ahead of ourselves, it appears the drives will only be available in Japan when they ship later this month. According to Engadget, the 1TB model will run about $225 after the exchange rate, while the 1.5TB will cost $284. Later on, Buffalo plans to release a 2TB model, which will sell for around $530. Add another $60 for the controller.
The first USB 3.0 controller was just recently certified, and now there’s a speedy external hard drive to go with it. Freecom has announced their “Hard Drive XS 3.0” as the first to support the new USB SuperSpeed standard.
The drives will come in 1TB, 1.5TB and 2TB sizes. The enclosure contains a standard 3.5 inch drive and is capable of data transfer speeds of up to 130MB/s. Not bad for a first attempt. The XS drives are backwards compatible with USB 2.0, meaning users can purchase them right away with the intention of upgrading to USB 3.0 when it becomes widely available. They will be on sale starting this November in Europe. The 1TB version will go for a not completely outlandish $175.
If you thought USB 3.0 was going to be fast, just wait for Intel’s Light Peak technology. The new optical interconnect standard was just shown off at IDF. Light Peak is capable of 10Gbps of bandwidth, with a theoretical upper limit of 100Gbps. At the initial offering of 10Gbps, you could transfer an entire Blu-Ray movie in about 30 seconds.
The standard would also be capable of multiple operations on a single cable. This is all possible over a cable that can be up to 100 meters long. The Light Peak technology consists of a controller chip, and an optical module that converts light to electricity and vice versa. Intel claims that current electrical cabling is reaching the limits of speed and cable length, something Light Peak can circumvent.
Intel hopes to see the technology adopted for use in PC’s as well as handheld devices. They believe adoption could happen quickly, as Light Peak is complementary to existing technologies. As for a shipping date, Intel claims components could be going out as soon as 2010.
The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) today approved the first SuperSpeed USB 3.0 product. The product in question is a host controller from NEC Electronics. Having this certified host controller will be a boon to other manufacturers, as they will be able to easily test products using the USB 3.0 spec.
The controller, known as the µPD720200 host controller, uses a PCI Express Gen 2 interface bus. This allows 2 USB 3.0 ports to be easily added to any system supporting the PCI Express bus. Analyst firm, In-Stat, estimates nearly one-third the market will support the SuperSpeed standard by 2013.
NEC Electronics originally announced the µPD720200 in May, but the product has just now been certified. “NEC Electronics has supported the development of SuperSpeed USB technology since the earliest efforts, and it is gratifying to help make the technology become a reality,” said Masao Hirasawa, General Manager, SoC Systems Division, NEC Electronics Corporation.
Point Grey has developed the “world’s first” Superspeed-enabled USB 3.0 digital video camera and has plans to show it off at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) in San Francisco next week. The camera takes advantage of the massive throughput advantages USB 3.0 is expected to offer.
As a prototype, the camera uses a Sony IMX036 CMOS image sensor capable of 3 megapixel video. The Sony sensor also boasts a raw output format streaming video at full 1080p with 60 frames per second. "One of the potential benefits of the increased bandwidth of USB 3.0 is that it allows the main processor to handle compression," explained Point Grey spokesperson Vlad Tucakov.
“This demonstration gives users insight into some of the other applications that are possible with SuperSpeed USB in addition to the high-speed data transfers with external storage devices that we have seen so far," added Jeff Ravencraft, Chairman of the USB Implementers Forum.
Are your USB 2.0 gadgets starting to feel a little slow? Well, luckily USB 3.0 controllers are about to enter mass production. Genesys Logic plans to start churning out the faster controller chips in the first quarter of 2010. Expect to start seeing it around later next year. Genesys expects to turn a profit almost immediately.
USB 3.0 was approved by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group last November. The new technology uses a 0.13µ process instead of the 0.18µ process used in USB 2.0. Early indications are that the 3.0 standard is capable of up to 10 times the speed of current USB technology. USB 3.0, or “SuperSpeed USB” as it’s also known, is expected to make up a quarter of the market by 2013.
USB 2.0 rated at 480Mbit/s sounded great when it was released back in April 2000, but more than 9 years later its becoming pretty easy to saturate with our never-ending collection of high speed external drives. USB 3.0 clocks in at a much more respectable 4.8 Gbit/s, but those patiently awaiting hardware will have to cool their heels just a bit longer.
According to the Inquirer, Asus is cancelling what would have been the world’s first USB 3.0 motherboard the P6X58. The company hasn’t given any specific comment on it’s reason for the cancellation, but I would surmise it has something to do with the fact that you still can’t find any devices to pair up with it yet.
Speculation aside, I’m sure Asus still has USB 3.0 on it’s roadmap, but we still have no idea when the first motherboards / devices will hit the market. Want to learn more about the new standard? Make sure to take a look at our comprehensive guide to all things USB 3.0.