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AMD puts USB 3.0 into its Fusion chipsets

An alternative to Thunderbolt
Wed Apr 13 2011, 12:04

CHIP DESIGNER AMD has become the first major PC chip vendor to support the USB 3.0 interface.

AMD announced that its A75 and A70M Fusion chipsets will be the first certified 'Superspeed USB' chipsets. Translated into plain English that means they will support the 5Gbps USB 3.0 interface that promises to bring not only higher transfer rates but also increased power supply for devices such as external hard drives.

By bringing USB 3.0 support into its Fusion chipsets, AMD has become the first chip firm to integrate a USB 3.0 controller into its silicon. Even though Intel is on the panel that designed the USB 3.0 interface, it has yet to announce a chipset that supports the interface, instead focusing on its Light Peak interface, now known as Thunderbolt.

Intel has said that its Thunderbolt bus is designed to co-exist with USB 3.0 but it's hard to see why Intel would bother with USB 3.0 once Thunderbolt starts to ramp up bandwidth. That said, USB 3.0 does provide backwards compatibility with USB 2.0 and that's what AMD will play on as it promotes Fusion.

Brian O'Rourke, principle analyst at In-Stat opined that USB 3.0 chipsets will drive adoption, saying, "Chipset integration is essential in order to make the latest version of USB dominant in the marketplace, and the first Superspeed USB chipsets will greatly impact adoption." Typically the mainboard vendors prefer not to add third party controller chips onto motherboards for cost, packaging and support reasons.

AMD hopes that system builders will adopt its Fusion platform, with vendors favouring a one chip solution rather than bolting a secondary USB 3.0 controller onto Intel chipsets. µ


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