NEC ELECTRONICS has announced what looks to be the world's first USB host controller supporting the new USB 3.0 standard.
The controller, or µPD720200 as it has been catchily dubbed, is purportedly designed for higher-performance transfer options on upcoming PCs, external hard drives and portable electronics. It's also backwardly compatible with USB 2.0, 1.1 and 1.0 for any slow pokes out there.
According to industry specs, the USB 3 standard should be able to support transfer speeds of up to five Gbps, some 10 times faster than the current USB 2.0 standard.
According to NEC, µPD720200 is also compatible with PCI Express and SATA, both capable of speeds of over three Gbps.
The best thing about USB 3, though, is that it finally does away with the profoundly irritating CPU polling older USB revs are known for. After all, USB was originally designed in an era where everything was supposed to run on a machine's CPU, invariably helping both Intel and AMD sell higher-grade processors than users actually needed, to stop the effect of clogging by oodles of interrupts. The problem is so acute, some users prefer PS/2 keyboards and mice to this day.
NEC's offering will be available from June, with the µPD720200 costing $15 a piece. The firm says each unit will be sold with free Windows driver software and that monthly production should reach 1,000,000 units by September of this year.
NEC has been a member of the USB Implementers Forum since 1996, and it's not the first time the company has stuck its, er, neck out to introduce a standards-based product ahead of its peers. Back in 2000, the firm launched the first USB 2.0-compliant host controller chip, with the μPD720100.
We're just happy all involved in the USB 3 fracas have finally decided to behave like adults, so the technology can finally progress. µ