You have third-party chip makers to thank for your USB 3.0 ports, a handful of which stepped up to the plate while AMD and Intel work on baking SuperSpeed USB 3.0 support into their chipsets. VIA Labs is one of those companies, and its 4-port VL800 and 2-port VL801 SuperSpeed USB Host controllers are now officially certified by the USB Implementators Forum (USB-IF), the non-profit organization whose mission is to maintain the USB spec and run a compliance program.
Both the VL800 and VL801 are single chip solutions that allow a PCI Express equipped platform to interface with SuperSpeed (5Gbps), High-Speed (480Mpbs), Full-Speed (12Mbps), and Low-Speed (1.5Mbps) devices, essentially giving your motherboard's PCI-E x1 port a meaningful reason to exist. There are four downstream facing ports on the VL800 root hub, and two downstream ports on the VL801.
"Gaining USB-IF certification helps ensure that our certified VL800 and VL801 host controllers will be interoperable and backward compatible with the billions of products in the USB ecosystem," stated Dr. Daniel Lin (PDF) , President, VIA Labs, Inc. "Certification provides manufacturers an additional incentive to incorporate our host controller, and certification greatly benefits OEMs and consumers."
According to USB-IF, there are over 275 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 products currently on the market, which is the very tip of what's expected to be a mammoth iceberg. Analyst firm In-Stat predicts there will be 77 million SuperSpeed USB products sold by the end of the year, and 436 million by the end of 2012.
Image Credit: VIA