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.
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.
Pay no attention to Intel dragging its feet in adopting USB 3.0, companies are jumping on the SuperSpeed bandwagon nonetheless. The latest is StarTech, which just announced the availability of its SATDOCKU3S USB 3.0 docking stations.
There are two docks in all, the 2-port PCI Express USB adapter (SATDOCKU3SP) and 2-port ExpressCard USB 3.0 host adapter (SATDOCKU3SE).
"The SATDOCKU3SP and SATDOCKU3SE hard drive docking stations offer users major value by providing the necessary USB 3.0 host adapters," said Carey Cline, Senior Product Manager for StarTech.com. "By bundling the docking station and the adapters, users get everything they need to take advantage of USB 3.0 speeds and reliability all in one package, and won’t have to rely on backward compatibility with previous USB standards to access external data."
Key features include support for both SATA 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch drives, an easy-to-use design with a hard drive release button, and hot-swappable, plug-and-play operation.
The SATDOCKU3SE ($119) and SATDOCKU3SP ($115) are available now.
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.