To USB or Not to USB


USB 3.0 in PC Chipsets

The Innovator that invented USB announced at IDF Beijing today that PC chipsets in 2012 will have USB 3.0 fully-integrated.   The Innovator has been shipping a few motherboards with the NEC Host chip, but in 2012, the chips supporting the latest processors will include USB 3.0.

In the same speech the speakers says that Thunderbolt will complement USB 3.0.  I really believe that.  Most of us will use USB 3.0 first. There are 100s of USB 3.0 products available, and every phone has USB 2.0.  The cost/performance of USB 3.0 is best suited to mass adoption, leading adoption over Thunderbolt for at least a few years in products and shipments.

Just yesterday (1 day earlier), AMD announced the first certified USB 3.0 PC Chipsets.  AMD’s A75 and A70M Fusion Controller Hubs.  A PC World interview with an AMD representative indicates that hardware has already been shipped to manufacturers.

This effectively makes USB 3.0 free to the consumer in 2012.


Finally a 4-port USB 3.0 Host Chip

On Monday, TI announced certification of 2-port and 4-port USB 3.0 xHCI Hosts.  This is the first 4-port Host to be certified which is important because I can tell you that every USB port on my Desktop and Laptops have something connected.  I really need a 4-port host.  This is great for PCs, but even better for the embedded market where you really need the flexibility of 4 ports for use both inside and outside the box.  For example, while most TVs should integrate USB 2.0, manufacturers can choose to put USB 3.0 ports on their high end TVs, and integrate the USB 3.0 later.


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