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Oct 26 2009

SuperSpeed USB Momentum

During the week of Intel Developer Forum San Francisco (Sep. 22-24), the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced that the first certified SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0) commercial product was available. Commercial availability of the host controller from NEC Electronics Corporation advances the technology toward broad adoption among host and peripheral manufacturers.

Allion covered the NEC host controller unveiling last May and the certification of the device by the USB-IF is an indication to PC manufacturers that the component will be interoperable with the entire SuperSpeed USB device ecosystem. The NEC Electronics host controller uses a PCI Express 2.0 bus, allowing designers to add up to two USB 3.0 interfaces to systems containing the PCIe interface.

What USB 3.0 Brings to the Table
SuperSpeed USB also brings compelling enhancements to the popular USB standard. SuperSpeed USB delivers data transfer rates up to 10 times faster than Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0), optimizes power usage and offers backward compatibility with previous generations of USB (see Comparing USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 for more).

USB 3.0 Adoption
So when will USB 3.0 be in the hands of consumers? Analyst firm In-Stat anticipates that SuperSpeed USB will expand upon the broad market adoption of the current USB standard and will make up about 30 percent of the USB market within five years. However, recent announcements from storage manufacturers Buffalo, Freecom and Active Media Products indicate that SuperSpeed USB consumer products will be on store shelves before the end of 2009.

The timeline for USB 3.0 test specification availability is still being determined, but as the technology reaches broader adoption, it is certain test labs will be enabled to verify SuperSpeed USB designs and products.