Realtek's Controllers And VIA's USB 3.0
Realtek's RTD1073 and RTD1283 chipsets were used in many inexpensive media players last year, and they're being used this year as well. The RTD1073 can play back media content, and the RTD1283 adds encoding support to this. Realtek wasn't showing off any new chipsets at its booth, but we did manage to come away with some information.
The 500 MHz RTD1185 will replace the RTD1283 in media players with encoding functionality (along with digital tuners). The RTD1073 will be replaced by a 500 MHz RTD1085, which internally supports gigabit Ethernet, SATA, and PCIe. Realtek also has a new value-oriented controller called RTD1055, without network support.
Realtek talks about offering the most complete audio/video format support with its new chipsets, including all popular HD codecs. We'll need to wait for the next generation high-def media players to emerge toward the end of 2010. Hopefully, they'll support the latest HD audio formats (Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio), which are not supported by the RTD1073/RTD1283).
NEC was first on the market with a USB 3.0 controller, but many vendors were disappointed by its low performance and high price. So, in 2010, we should start seeing new USB 3.0 controllers from other companies, which will hopefully improve on the NEC design.
VIA is famous for its inexpensive add-on peripherals, and the company presented some new USB 3.0 logic at the show: its VL800 host controller, the VL810 for USB hubs, and the VL700/VL750 for USB 3.0 devices.
VIA presented a tech demo with beta drivers and final silicon of the VL800. We cannot give exact performance numbers, but the performance we saw with a USB 3.0-based SSD was much better than with NEC controller. VIA's VL800 supports four ports, so, in the near future, we will get fast, flexible, and inexpensive add-in cards based on this controller. VL800 uses one lane of PCIe 1.1/2.0 for connection to its host system.
VIA showed off many devices that were using its controllers. There's a new age of USB 3.0 on the horizon, without question.