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Intel pledges free USB 3.0 chip spec 'early H2'

Tells grumbling chip makers to pipe down

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Intel has denied keeping USB 3.0 - aka SuperSpeed USB - to itself, refuting rumours circulating around the halls at Computex last week.

As Register Hardware said at the time, Intel can't stop other companies getting their hands on the USB 3.0 specification - and the final standard, once it's ratified - because it's not the only chip maker working on it.

Texas Instruments, Microsoft, HP and NEC - to name but four - are also steering the specification's development, as are many other firms who heeded these founder members' calls late last year to join them.

What Intel is holding onto is the development of USB 3.0-compatible host controller design. It's this that industry sources were moaning about last week, claiming Intel was unwilling to hand it over.

SuperSpeed USB roadmap

The USB 3.0 roadmap

It's no great surprise that it won't because it's not yet complete. The chip giant this week said it would release the specification - intended to help rival silicon designers jump-start their own USB 3.0 support - early in H2 2008.

Intel also said it will provide the technology free of charge. It's doing this not from philanthropy but because it should speed the adoption of USB 3.0. SuperSpeed USB ups the maximum bus bandwidth to 4.7Gb/s, ideal for quickly batting HD content around, and with more HD content about punters are going to want faster processors. Which, of course, Intel is ready to sell them.

The chip giant said it was "investing heavily" in the host controller spec, and pitched the move as a magnanimous gesture made to benefit the industry as a whole.

Whatever Intel's motivation, there's no doubt that plenty of other chip makers will benefit from that investment and grumbling that they're not getting this freebie when they want it is, frankly, a bit rich.

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