Intel 'Sets The Record Straight' On Plans For USB 3.0

Misconceptions stem from Intel's development of the supporting "host controller" specification, which the chipmaker claims is a parallel, but separate, effort.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

June 12, 2008

2 Min Read

Intel on Thursday tried to quell what it sees as speculation and rumor on the Web over its involvement in the development of USB 3.0, a faster version of the popular standard for attaching hardware such as digital cameras, music players, external hard drives, and other devices to computers.

Among the rumors Intel said were untrue were that it was creating the specification or holding back its development and that the emerging standard uses technology from another industry technology group.

"There has been a lot of unanswered speculation recently regarding USB 3.0 and Intel's involvement; I thought it was about time to set the record straight," Intel spokesman Nick Knupffer said in the company's blog.

Many of the misconceptions stem from Intel's development of the supporting "host controller" specification, which the chipmaker claims is a parallel, but separate, effort by Intel. "Think of the host controller spec as a 'Dummies Guide' to building a USB 3.0 compatible piece of silicon; it is not the USB 3.0 specification itself," Knupffer said.

The USB standard is under development by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which along with Intel includes Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, NEC, Texas Instruments, and more than 180 other contributing companies. Contributors also include Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices and graphics chipmaker Nvidia. The group is expected to make the spec publicly available early in the second half of this year, which means "very soon," Knupffer said.

The spokesman said the host controller spec, which will be available soon for free, is meant to get the USB 3.0 technology to market as soon as possible, Knupffer said. Because of USB 3.0's ability to move data faster between devices, it's sure to encourage movement of even larger files and increase demand for computational resources, which translates into a bigger need for quad-core processors from Intel and AMD. USB 3.0 is expected to have as much as a 10x performance boost over its predecessor.

Finally, Intel said USB 3.0 does not borrow heavily from technology developed by the PCI Special Interests Group, which developed the PCI Express architecture used in attaching graphics cards and other components to motherboards. Intel contributed to both the USB and PCI Express specifications, but has not taken technology from the latter for the former, Knupffer said.

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