It's officially 2011 and native USB 3.0 support still isn't all that close to fruition. Blame both Intel and AMD for dragging their feet, and credit NEC and other USB 3.0 chip makers for filling in the gap.
According to DigiTimes, AMD isn't planning to integrate native USB 3.0 support until July of this year. Intel will take even longer adopting the SuperSpeed spec by baking it into its Ivy Bridge platform all the way in January 2012, exactly a year from now.
In the meantime, NEC, ASMedia, and Etron are leading the charge with USB 3.0 chips, more recently turning their attention to AMD's new Ontario and Zacate platforms. This will give the trio at least another year of profitability, DigiTimes says, and maybe longer.
Both Intel and AMD will start pushing the new standard in the months to come, although it's expected that Intel will relegate native USB 3.0 support to only its high-end boards at first.
Since the USB 3.0 spec has already claimed the designation "SuperSpeed," Patriot opted to go with a slightly different nomenclature for its newest USB 3.0 flash drive family: Supersonic.
Patriot's new Supersonic series features a native single-chip USB 3.0 controller and Quad-Channel technology. Combine the two and Patriot says you're left with one helluva fast drive.
"Patriot is one of the first companies to integrate a native single-chip USB 3.0 flash memory controller. By pairing the controller with our Quad-Channel technology, we're able to maximize performance with the Supersonic series," says Les Henry, Patriot Memory's Vice President of Engineering. "We are able to shrink the physical size of the USB 3.0 flash drives for even greater portability."
Available in 32GB and 64GB capacities, Patriot says the Supersonic series is capable of hitting 100MB/s and 70MB/s sequential read and write speeds, respectively.
The Supersonic series will ship in early 2011 for an as yet undetermined price.
With both LGA1156 and AM3 scheduled for termination sooner rather than later, there’s only one safe harbor that will carry you through this year: LGA1366.
Fortunately, it’s no longer a major financial stretch to get into Intel’s enthusiast socket. Yes, you can spend a massive amount of cash on a board that you can boot using the Bluetooth on your phone, but for many DIYers, $200 is the maximum they’ll spend on a mobo. Enter Gigabyte’s GA-X58-USB3. As the name implies, it’s a USB 3.0 board using Intel’s elderly but still quite capable X58 chipset.
Earlier this year, Super Talent Technology introduced the USB 3.0 Express RAM Cache range of flash drives. Featuring a DRAM caching system, the Express RAM Cache family supposedly offers exponential performance gains over USB 2.0 drives. According to a press release issued by the company back then, the addition of DRAM caching boosts small block random performance by “up to 110x over USB 2.0 speeds.”
“The introduction of USB 3.0 and DRAM cache has created a brand new breed of flash drives which are now outperforming the fastest of hard disk drives. Ceedo adds value to our product line by enabling customers to use flash storage in a whole new way,” SuperTalent COO CH Lee is quoted as having said in a release.
“It enables you to install and carry standard Windows applications for use on any PC. Armed with our new USB 3.0 Express RAM Cache, now any PC is your PC.”
Super Talent is serving up a free speed boost to RAIDDrive owners via a new firmware update that makes the already fast drive even faster. Can you guess the caveat?
According to Super Talent, the new firmware unlocks additional performance potential that allows the drive to hit up to 370MB/s, but it has to be connected to a second generation USB 3.0 host controller, like Fresco Logic's FL1009 chip.
Unlike other USB 3.0 controllers, such as the NEC chip that's so prominent, Fresco Logic's FL1009 part makes full use of PCI Express 2.0 x1. Fresco Logic claims its USB 3.0 allows each port to sustain full bandwidth, resulting in ultra fast transfers above and beyond what you'd normally see with USB 3.0.
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."
LaCie is touting what it claims is the smallest SSD USB 3.0 drive around, the FastKey. Living up to its name, LaCie's FastKey boasts up to 260MB/s transfers, enough to scoot 1,000 MP3 or five DiVX files in under a minute, the company claims.
"With most flash drives, transferring a large number of photos and MP3 files can take a few minutes," said Luc Pierart, Business Unit Manager, Personal Storage, LaCie. "With the FastKey, transferring small files is immediate. You can back up or share your music and photo libraries as you head out the door."
The peppy device is also easy on the eyes with what appears to be a brushed aluminum casing. It's also capacious, coming in 30GB, 60GB, and 120GB capacities, each one with AES 256-bit software encryption included.
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.