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.
EVGA this week added another X58-based board to an already crowded lineup built around Intel's flagship chipset. It's called the X58 SLI3, which builds upon the X58 SLI LE by adding a pair of USB 3.0 ports and two SATA 6Gb/s ports to the mix.
The board also comes equipped with 6 x SATA 3Gb/s ports and 10 x USB 2.0 ports, as well as a handful of features geared towards overclockers. These include 100 percent solid state capacitors, VDroop control, EVGA's EZ Voltage, and the E-LEET tuning utility software.
The rest if pretty standard fare for a $200 X58 board, including SLI and CrossFireX support, RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5, and JBOD configurations, a pair of Ethernet ports, and support for up to 24GB of DDR3-1600+ in tri-channel form.
We have to hand it to ioSafe for taking constructive criticism to heart. The company's latest external enclosure, the SoloPRO, now features both USB 3.0 support and eSATA, two features that were missing from the original Solo.
Like before, ioSafe promises an insane amount of protection for your data, including the ability to withstand temperatures up to 1,550F for 30 minutes, or being submerged in liquid to a depth of 10 feet for up to 3 days. More than just marketing bullets, ioSafe backs these claims with up to a $2,500 guarantee towards the cost of third-party forensic data recovery.
"Both homes and businesses need to store ever-increasing volumes of data quickly without worrying about data loss. ioSafe has always been about safely and securely storing data locally and now with its introduction of USB 3.0 and eSATA, home and businesses can accomplish that more quickly than ever before," said Jerome Wendt, Principal and Lead Analyst at DCIG.
The SoloPRO will begin shipping October 1, 2010, and is available for pre-order now for $250 (1TB), $320 (1.5TB), and $420 (2TB).
Lian Li has just added a new all aluminum chassis to its Mini Q series, the PC-V354. Designed for small setups, Lian Li's latest mini tower serves up support for micro-ATX, mini-ITX, and mini-DTX form factors.
The case measures 245x320x420mm (W.H.D.) and boasts enough room to accommodate up to seven 3.5-inch hard drives. Each HDD cage is modular, so if you plan on installing an elongated videocard, you can remove one of the cages and gain access to nearly 14 inches of space.
On the cooling front, the PC-354 comes with two 120mm blue or red LED fans on the front and a single 140mm fan on the top. Lian Li says that each one comes mounted with special anti-vibration grommets and dust filters, making them capable of running near silent while keeping your system free from debris.
Other features include a pair of USB 3.0-ready ports, a single external 5.25-inch drive bay, and integrated SD card reader.
Look for the PC-354 to ship at the end of August for $180 (silver/black) and $200 (red).
If iBuyPower were to write a boutique system vendor's Declaration of Independence, it would go something like this this:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all systems are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are SuperSpeed USB 3.0 at no additional cost."
iBuyPower didn't actually write any such declaration, but the company did announce that is now offering USB 3.0 on all if its desktop systems for free, and that includes systems with motherboards that don't feature onboard SuperSpeed USB support. For rigs that don't, iBuyPower will throw in a free internal USB 3.0 PCi-E x1 expansion card.
"The upgrade future-proofs new iBuyPower desktops by ensuring their compatibility with new as well as unreleased handheld recorders, digital cameras, smartphones, and more," iBuyPower said.
We’ve seen a few USB 3.0 external drives here at Maximum PC, and we do appreciate the long-overdue speed boost. It’s nice to have file transfers limited by drive speed again, rather than the interface—the 33MB/s maximum was killing us. And while we appreciated the boost we got from USB 3.0 in WD’s My Book 3.0 and the Vantec NexStar 3 SuperSpeed enclosure, the former was only as fast as the mechanical drive within it and the latter couldn’t even match the speeds of the drives it enclosed.
It’s great to have a USB 3.0 interface on a mechanical drive, but wouldn’t it be nice to combine USB 3.0 with SSD? With a theoretical bandwidth limit exceeding 5Gb/s, why wouldn’t you? Thankfully, OCZ did. The Enyo is a compact anodized aluminum brick stuffed with MLC NAND and a USB 3.0 SuperSpeed port.
As details of AMD's Hudson D1 -- the southbridge the chip maker will launch in tandem with its upcoming dual-core 32nm Fusion processors -- begin to trickle out, one thing still up in the air is how USB 3.0 will factor in. According to whispers among some notebook makers, there's a good chance AMD will integrate USB 3.0 into Hudson.
We won't have to wait very long to find out. The Hudson D1 chipset is expected to debut in the fourth quarter of 2010 and will primarily target ultra-thin notebooks and netbooks. USB 3.0 is somewhat of a rarity so far on mobile PCs, and with Intel taking its sweet little time pushing the SuperSpeed spec, something like this could give the Sunnyvale chip maker a leg up in a segment mostly served by Intel.
While nothing is yet decided, there's reason to believe AMD will get this done. AMD is already tapping into NEC to outfit its desktop boards with USB 3.0, and extending that relationship over to notebooks shouldn't be overly challenging.
While Intel continues to ignore our plea to jump on the USB 3.0 bandwagon and get the SuperSpeed spec rolling in full force, NEC is taking matters into its own hands and will reportedly cut prices for its first- and second-gen USB 3.0 chips in 4Q10. These are being described as "significant" price cuts, while the company's next-gen SuperSpeed chips will start shipping in the first quarter of 2011 for less than $2 a piece.
NEC, which currently holds a 90 percent share of the USB 3.0 market, is just one of several manufactures pushing SuperSpeed chips into motherboard makers' hands. ASMedia (an Asus subsidiary), VIA, Etron, and Fresco Logic have all introduced price cuts of their own, with ASMedia dipping all the way down to $1.7 per chip for bulk orders.
As for next-gen USB 3.0 parts, NEC's upcoming chips will reportedly feature higher performance, lower power consumption, and mainstream price points. There's talk that this pricing strategy will cut into NEC's profits, but the bulk of that will be offset from IP licensing fees, including that from bigwig clients like AMD, Intel, and Microsoft.
Lian Li has come up with a new line of enclosures, only these are for your hard drive, not your entire PC. Dubbed "EX-10Q," these external drive enclosures provide a colorful home for your 2.5-inch hard drive (or SSD).
Constructed of thin aluminum and available in a variety of colors (red, silver, black, and blue), the EX-10Q connects via a USB 3.0 port allowing it to reach speeds of up to 5Gbps, or up to 480Mbps if you're still rolling old school with USB 2.0 (and thanks to Intel dragging its feet, most of us are).
The EX-10Q enclosures measure 75mm x 12mm x 130mm (or 2.95in x 0.47in x 5.12mm for those of you who shake an angry fist at the metric system) and will start shipping soon for $30.
Yo, Intel, we need to talk. Word on the Web is that you're not planning to support USB 3.0, otherwise known as SuperSpeed USB, until at least late 2011, with 2012 looking like a more realistic time frame. What the madness?
Those of us with deep pockets bit the bullet and picked up your uber expensive Core i7 980X processor, so far the only consumer six-core chip without an AMD label on it. We did it because we love technology and, well, the kids can always take out student loans, right?
And we didn't really want to go there, but we feel like you owe us after that whole BTX debacle. What are we supposed to do with a BTX case now? That's about as tough to unload on Craigslist as our RDRAM sticks (remember those?).
Hit the jump to read the rest of our plea and to make your own!