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.
Verbatim has announced the launch of its maiden USB 3.0-equipped portable hard drive. The Store 'n' Go SuperSpeed USB 3.0 compact portable hard drive will be available in 500GB and 750GB capacities in October, with a 1TB variant to follow in November. If your world is rife with USB 2.0 ports like everyone else's, the drive's compatibility with the ubiquitous interface will ensure that you don't feel out of place. We are still waiting for Verbatim to spill out the price of the portable hard drive, but we do know that it will be covered under a 7-year warranty.
"We're excited to introduce the Store 'n' Go, the first portable hard drive in Verbatim's USB 3.0 collection, and allow consumers to experience a significant improvement in data transfer speeds that will let them complete their tasks in a fraction of the time," said Charles Klinker, Verbatim's Director of Marketing, HDD Products. "With the Store 'n' Go, users can seamlessly enter into the new generation of USB 3.0 and safely and reliably share, store and back-up their data anytime, anywhere."
The truth is out there. Somewhere. And in No BS Podcast Episode #155, we'll find it. Join Gordon, Alex, Nathan and Andy as they discuss Intel's USB 3.0 internal header spec, alien conspiracy theories, Star Wars in 3D, and Android apps that spy on you. Gordon rants about the Green Lantern, losing your job for sassing Steve Jobs, and leveling the playing field in online games.
Plus, we're giving away a sweet Asus AM3 motherboard, but you'll have to listen to the podcast to figure out how to enter!
Do you have a tech question? A comment? A tale of technological triumph? Just need to get something off your chest? A secret to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our 24-hour No BS Podcast hotline at 877.404.1337 x1337--operators are not standing by.
Want to know if you’re a tier 1 nerd? You are if the phrase USB 3.0 Internal Connector Cable Specification Revision 1.0 gets your nerd on. Yeah, we thought you’d get as excited as we did. This is, afterall, one of the final hurdles to getting native SuperSpeed USB 3.0 down in the motherboard.
Not sure what the hell we’re talking about? It’s the spec that defines what an internal motherboard header will be for SuperSpeed USB 3.0. Up until now, case enclosure vendors have had to hack together work arounds for front mounted USB 3.0 ports by running pass through cables that go out the back of the case and plug into the motherboard’s USB 3.0 ports on back.
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.
LaCie has expanded its lineup of USB 3.0-enabled external hard drives (maybe because the Rugged USB 3.0 mobile hard drive it launched in late April had begun pining for siblings). The Minimus and Rikiki are the company's latest USB 3.0-powered HDD offerings. If you believe in love at first sight, then an innate predilection for “sturdy brushed aluminum”will surely boost the odds of you falling for these two drives.
"The Minimus and Rikiki USB 3.0 offer our customers easy and affordable options to access the super speeds of USB 3.0," Philippe Rault, LaCie Consumer Product Manager, is quoted as saying in a release. "Since these products offer backward compatibility with USB 2.0, they will work on any PC or Mac with no worry."
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.