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NEC ready to sample 'world's first' USB 3.0 controller chip

SuperSpeed part out next month

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NEC has taken the wraps off what may be the world's first control chip for USB 3.0 - aka SuperSpeed USB.

The µPD720200 implements the most recent version of the USB 3.0 specification to deliver data-transfer speeds of up to 5Gb/s - more than ten times faster than USB 2.0's peak.

NEC uPD720200 USB 3.0 controller

NEC's µPD720200: powering USB 3.0 PCs by the end of the year?

The NEC part is fully compatible with older versions of the standard. Indeed, USB 3.0 mandates the presence of a USB 2.0 bus alongside the higher-speed link for this very reason.

The chip is based Intel's eXtensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) outline, a set of guidelines for building USB 3.0 Host Controller chippery that the company released last year to avoid accusations that it had a headstart on the development of SuperSpeed silicon.

NEC uPD720200 USB 3.0 controller

Inside NEC's µPD720200

NEC's 1cm² chip connects to a machine's PCI Express bus. Computer manufacturers who want to get their hands on the part will be able to do so next month when the µPD720200 samples at $15 a pop.

NEC is expected to put the chip into mass production by Q3, so we could see USB 3.0-capable PCs by the end of the year. That said, peripherals that can use the 5Gb/s bus aren't expected to go on sale until 2010. ®

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