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Intel Denies Holding Back USB 3.0

Rumors that Intel is not releasing the Universal Serial Bus 3.0 specification to its technology partners in a timely manner have prompted a rebuttal. The allegation really concerns the Intel host controller specification used by chip manufacturers, explained Nick Knupffer, an Intel employee.

He provided an estimated arrival time.

"The Intel host controller spec is expected to be unveiled to the industry as soon as possible, in the second half of the year," Knupffer wrote.

The host controller spec is typically what chipmakers use in developing their products he added. It's different from the USB 3.0 specification, which is managed by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, Knupffer wrote. Members of that group include HP, Microsoft, NEC, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments, along with Intel.

The actual USB 3.0 products are not expected to appear on the market until next year, according to an October interview of Intel's Jeff Ravencraft, who serves as the USB 3.0 Promoter Group chairman.

"If the USB 3.0 Promoter's Group meets its objective of spec completion in the first half of 2008, then we should see the first silicon solutions on the market in 2009, followed by end products in late 2009 or early 2010," Ravencraft said.

The allegation that Intel was hoarding USB 3.0 spec information from competing chipmakers surfaced in A CNET News.com story by Brooke Crothers. That story cited an unnamed AMD source, who suggested that some chipmakers may "create a new open host controller standard for USB 3.0" in reaction to Intel's alleged delay.

There was no response from AMD at press time on whether there was any substance to that statement.

Knupffer denied that Intel is holding back the specification. Instead, Intel wants to get the spec out because USB 3.0 products will help feed the demand for Intel's quad-core processers, he argued. He pointed to Intel's heavy investment in the standard, which will be provided to manufacturers royalty free. Finally, he argued that Intel can't deliver an undeveloped spec.

"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," he wrote.

If Intel did delay releasing spec information, it would give that company a jump on rival chipmakers, such as AMD, Nvidia and Via Technologies, on delivering USB 3.0 products.

USB 3.0 is the next high-speed interconnection standard that promises data transfer rates of up to 4.7 Gbps, or about 10 times the speed of the current USB 2.0 standard.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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