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10/29/2009
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Asus Unveils USB 3.0 Motherboard

USB 3.0, also known as SuperSpeed USB, supports throughput up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0.

Asus Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium
(click image for larger view)
Asus Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium

Asus has introduced a motherboard with on-board support for SuperSpeed USB, with up to 10 times the data-transfer rate of its predecessor.

In addition, the Asus Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium has two SATA 6 Gb per second ports for up to two hard disk drives. It also uses CPU sockets for Intel's Core i7, i5 and i3 processors, the chip maker's latest PC processors.

But the key differentiator in Asus' new product is support for SuperSpeed USB, officially called USB 3.0. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group released the final specification nearly a year ago.

The new motherboard supports USB 3.0 connectors with a data-transfer rate of up to 5 Gbps, which developers of the spec says is up to 10 times faster than Hi-Speed USB, officially called USB 2.0. Such connectors are used to attach peripherals, such as printers, external hard drives and portable media players, to a PC.

The SuperSpeed rate means transferring a 20 GB high-definition movie between a peripheral device and a PC with Asus's new motherboard would take less than 70 seconds, according to the vendor. A 4 MB song could be transferred in less than a hundredth of a second.

The Asus motherboard uses the Intel P55 Express Chipset, which does not support USB 3.0. Therefore, Asus uses a third-party controller. Intel in August 2008 released a draft specification for an interface that would allow a SuperSpeed USB controller to act as a bridge between a computer's processor and the operating system.

Other specifications of the Xtreme Design P7P55D-E Premium include two USB 3.0 and 10 USB 2.0 ports and four PCIe slots. The board also supports the latest DDR3 system memory and ships with Windows 7 drivers.

The motherboard, unveiled Wednesday, is 4.8 inches by 3 inches and is scheduled to be available next month for $299.

Industry adoption of USB 3.0 will likely soar. Market researcher In-Stat predicts that support in hard drives will exceed 70% by 2012, with similar adoption rates expected in laptops and desktop PCs.

Mobile phones, flash drives and other devices will likely adopt the technology over time, so that by 2013, SuperSpeed USB will represent more than 25% of the USB market, according to In-Stat.

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