Intel's USB 3 Work: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

According to Intel, it gets no respect. The company has spent "gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours" on co-developing the new USB 3.0 spec and the commensurate USB 3.0 Intel host controller spec; yet Intel is perceived as wanting to keep USB 3.0 all to itself. At least that's the story that Nick Knupffer, blogger and Global Communications Manager for Intel, tells on Intel's Technology blog. 

Knupffer chose to use the Intel Technology blog as an opportunity for dispelling a number of rumors swirling around the development of the USB 3.0 spec. First up was the rumor that Intel is creating the USB 3.0 spec on its own: 

"USB 3.0 is not an Intel specification; it is being developed by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group (HP, Intel, MSFT, NEC, NXP, and TI). The USB 3.0 Promoters issued a call for contributors in November 2007 and since then the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has been joined by over 180 USB 3.0 Contributor companies (Including other chipset makers such as AMD and Nvidia) who are helping to finalize the USB 3.0 specification. This spec is expected to be made publicly available by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group along with an adopter agreement early in the second half of 2008. (Very soon)"

Knupffer goes on to distinguish the difference between the USB 3.0 spec and the Intel host controller spec:

"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."

"Intel plans to make this spec available early in second half of 2008 with a no-royalty licensing obligation (Basically: free, gratis, unpaid, zero dollars, free of charge, at no cost, on the house). This isn't only because we are just nice guys, but it is also because Intel has set the bar for technology leadership and industry stewardship. It is Intel's stewardship that has lead to USB being the most successful interface in the history of computing. + We at Intel love it when available processor performance is used to the max."

We're not quite sure if we completely buy Intel's claims that it is not working alone on USB 3.0. While it is technically a true statement, it doesn't accurately represent the whole picture: Intel is part of a group of companies that is developing the new spec… But Intel is working alone on the host controller spec… And the host controller spec is essentially the instruction manual for making controller chips for USB 3.0 communications… And manufacturers are waiting for Intel's host controller spec to start developing USB 3.0 controller chips. This is a bit of a slippery slope if you ask us.

The second rumor Knupffer tries to dispel is that "Intel is holding back the specification, and not sharing with the industry." Knupffer explains:

"One danger however of distributing an unfinished spec is the risk of incompatible hardware down the line, leading to a right mess. As an Intel specification Intel has the responsibility to insure that specifications we deliver to the industry are fully developed and mature enough for others to use. The Intel host controller spec is expected to be unveiled to the industry as soon as possible, in the second half of the year. The impatience of our fellow chipset-makers (as described in the press) to leverage Intel's investment and begin to design great USB 3.0 supporting devices of their own is however very encouraging and should aid a fast USB 3.0 adoption ramp."

We're actually going to side with Intel on this one. We'd rather wait longer for something to be done right, as opposed to having it sooner, but half, er, baked. Of course, if Intel was working with engineers from other companies, perhaps the processes could have been sped up... Or perhaps bogged down even more with too many cooks in the kitchen.

The last rumor Knupffer addresses is "that USB 3.0 borrows technology heavily from the PCI Special Interests group." Knupffer denies this, but then goes on to say how Intel has been a major contributor to both the PCI-SIG and USB Promoter groups for many years--essentially implying that there very well may be some significant technology similarities after all. 

USB 3.0, which will also be called SuperSpeed USB, will be backward compatible with current USB devices, and will support transfer speeds of up to 4.8Gb/sec (600MB/Sec)--which is ten times faster than Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0).

At the end of day, as consumers, all we really care about is getting reliable, interoperable USB 3.0 products to market sooner than later. So our message to Intel is to stop worrying about what the other kids are saying about you, and get back to writing that "Dummies Guide."
Via:  Intel
Tags:  Intel, USB, Work, USB 3, NPU, K
volatile 6 years ago
I suppose saying it that way goes over better than saying "If another company wants to develop a host controller, they're free to, and they can do with it as they damn well please. These companies waiting for someone else to produce something, then complaining about that development have some serious issues. I don't see anyone else stepping up to the plate to develop a host controller, so they should just shut their mouths and be happy that they get it at all."

Although that way would make for a much more interesting landscape, but I think that's more of an nVidia blog than Intel.
higgamo 6 years ago

 =O ill wait for usb 3.0, if they get extra time they might get it to go even faster 

amdcrankitup 6 years ago
Hey if they get xtra time they,ll get right and Faster!
kid007 6 years ago
i love how they cry, but then again do we need a another version of usb? forgive me ignorance but the current one is pretty darn fast...
Lev_Astov 6 years ago
I don't know about you, but I could go for a USB interface that is 10X faster.

I think Intel is doing it right.
amdcrankitup 6 years ago

I agree and to me faster is always better!

SqUiD267 6 years ago

 I'll jsut the PCI card, I just got a new mobo!

recoveringknowitall 6 years ago

Your specs are shapin up nicely SqUiD! Yes

Would a 10x faster USB be faster than firewire and if so where does that leave firewire in the future?

ice91785 6 years ago

[quote user="recoveringknowitall"]Would a 10x faster USB be faster than firewire and if so where does that leave firewire in the future?[/quote]

Firewire actually isn't THAT much faster than USB at the moment if you are comparing USB 2.0 and Firewire400. Not a LOT implements Firewire800 but it chugs along pretty quickly. Either way eSATA is the way to go for raw speed :)

One huge difference between USB and firewire is that USB is host-based (needs a computer as a middle man) whereas firewire is P2P meaning that 2 devices can be directly connected and inviably transfer -- this in part increases the efficiency of firewire in many cases due to much lower latencies.

Bottom line: its a little like apples and oranges here and totally depends on the situation. if you have an EXT HDD and hooked it up via USB and transferred 1GB worth of stuff and then hooked it up via firewire and transferred the same 1GB of stuff, you would probably save yourself about 2 minutes or so...



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