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First USB 3.0 Demo Possibly at IDF Next Week

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 8 comments
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Santa Clara (CA) - Intel today sent out a press release stating that its "Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) draft specification revision 0.9 in support of the USB 3.0 architecture, also known as SuperSpeed USB" is now available. This move not only clears some confusion over claims that Intel may be withholding USB 3.0 specifications, but also indicates that we should be able to see first USB 3.0 demonstrations at next week’s IDF in San Francisco.

Intel’s xHCI debuts with USB 3.0 and provides hardware component designers, system builders and device driver developers with a description of the hardware/software interface between system software and the host controller hardware for USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 (previous versions are not supported). According to Intel, the xHCI draft specification provides a standardized method for USB 3.0 host controllers to communicate with the USB 3.0 software stack and is being made available under RAND-Z (royalty free) licensing terms to all USB 3.0 Promoter Group and contributor companies that sign an xHCI contributor agreement.

A revised xHCI 0.95 specification is planned to be made available in the fourth quarter of this year.

The release of the spec follows claims that Intel could be engaging in unfair business practices by withholding the spec and the company’s subsequent confirmations that the host controller standards would be made available in the second half of 2008 royalty-free - "free, gratis, unpaid, zero dollars, free of charge, at no cost, on the house."

While Intel has kept its promise, the implications of the announcement are that the USB 3.0 technology is virtually finalized and product development can get into full gear. The timing of the announcement is a sign that USB 3.0 demonstrations could take place at Intel’s fall developer forum, which will open its doors on August 19. Commercial products are not expected to be released until late 2009.

When maxed out USB 3.0, will offer ten times the bandwidth of USB 2.0 - 4.8 Gb/s, which translates into a massive bandwidth of 600 MB/s.

Also noteworthy about Intel’s announcement is the fact that it got AMD to supply a quote for its press release. "The future of computing and consumer devices is increasingly visual and bandwidth intensive," said Phil Eisler, AMD corporate vice president and general manager of the Chipset Business Unit. "Lifestyles filled with HD media and digital audio demand quick and universal data transfer. USB 3.0 is an answer to the future bandwidth need of the PC platform. AMD believes strongly in open industry standards, and therefore is supporting a common xHCI specification."

Yes, it is one of those quotes you can easily live without. But read between the lines and the simple fact that AMD is quoted in an Intel press release should be indication enough that USB 3.0 is off to a good start. We also heard that Nvidia has signed the USB 3.0 agreement.

Two weeks ago, the IEEE said that it has approved the IEEE 1394-2008 specification, which increases the interface bandwidth of IEEE1394, also known as Firewire and i.Link, to 3.2 Gb/s.

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  • 0 Hide
    jaragon13 , August 13, 2008 9:25 PM
    My PCI Express lanes are slower?? Maybe I can run graphics cards on my USB..
  • 0 Hide
    daft , August 14, 2008 4:13 AM
    ha, you must be running first gen slots! second gen gets it done!
  • 0 Hide
    terror112 , August 14, 2008 5:05 AM
    this opens the door to being able to run external GPU's through USB, might even be able to send an HD signal over USB too.
  • Display all 8 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , August 14, 2008 6:15 AM
    10X faster? Great! Now how much more electricity does it use? If it's only 5X as much then I'll go for it. Otherwise, USB 2.0 seems to be fast enough for my gaming keyboards/mice and the USB thumb drive for school.
  • 0 Hide
    JonnyDough , August 14, 2008 6:16 AM
    Your site is having issues. I post, I see nothing but one comment. Then I see 3 and not my post, then I see one. I keep refreshing and...well...

    =(
  • 0 Hide
    doomturkey , August 14, 2008 8:19 AM
    "When maxed out USB 3.0, will offer ten times the bandwidth of USB 2.0 - 4.8 Gb/s, which translates into a massive bandwidth of 600 MB/s."
    That sentence makes no sense whatsoever.
  • 0 Hide
    V3NOM , August 14, 2008 10:26 AM
    4.8Gb/s or GigaBITS is equivalent to 600 MegaBYTES (8 bits=1 byte) duh...
  • 0 Hide
    Mr_Man , August 14, 2008 5:17 PM
    I just hope that more devices take full advantage of the speed. Many devices labeled as "USB 2.0" run at USB 1.1 speeds (like 20 times slower). That's just unacceptable if you're transferring video files off of a flash drive. I think that Firewire's new specification will be able to compete with USB 3.0 well because it will actually use the full bandwidth on any device which has the power to do so.