USB 3.0 Finger pointing starts up again

One of the things about working with marketing and PR companies that I both love and hate is spin and FUD.  These two tools of deception are used with abandon on the consumer and in the end, while in many cases funny, are very anti-consumer.

So this morning when a story entitled "NVIDIA confirms Intel chipsets won’t support USB 3.0 until 2011" popped up, my FUD antennae started to twitch. The first thing that should set you off is the title. "NVIDIA confirms Intel?s? ". How can NVIDIA confirm anything that Intel is doing or their company policy?

In the end it is Brian Burke at NVIDIA who is making the statement. He says in an e-mail to TG Daily "We [have also] learned that Intel is postponing USB 3.0 introduction until 2011." This is an interesting thing to say as from the information we have NVIDIA is not going to be releasing a chipset with it anytime soon and even AMD won?t put USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 [6Gbps] in their chipsets until Q4 2010 or Q1 2011.

So how does this statement become a confirmation of anything, and how does it show that Intel is hurting innovation? As we have written ASUS has found a way to have both SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 on their board without any problem. This is the way it was done when SATA and USB first came out. At the time the best USB control chip was made by Via. Most boards used this to control their USB [anyone remember the VIA USB and 686 Southbridge issues?] The fact this this statement comes attached to a rant about how much better NVIDIA chipsets are than Intel?s should be an indication that this is really not much more than mudslinging. I will give NVIDIA their credit that ION is a much better chipset than the Intel 945GSE for netbooks, there is no question there. Their desktop chipset [for Intel] have been hit and miss for most starting with the 680i.

Burke also comments that competition is good for the consumer; this is a statement that I can completely agree with. However, if that is true why won?t NVIDIA open up PhysX? Make it an open standard and allow the natural competition to create a better implementation of the libraries benefit the consumer. Also competition is only good when you have a product to compete with. In the netbook, nettop, SFF and thin and light space they have something. ION and ION2. In the mid-range and enthusiast space they do not have anything right now.

Yes, yes I know they are saying they are waiting until their legal battle with Intel is over and the dust settled. This could be the case but as they do not have any legal confusion with AMD why have we not seen a competing chipset for AMD?  I am sure that many AMD owners would love to see an nForce chipset for AMD that is "full of innovative features." The last we heard this is not going to happen any time soon – and nVidia’s last chipset for AMD, the nForce 980a SLI is nothing more than a re-badged 780a that uses Socket AM3 instead of AM2+.

Is Intel delaying USB 3.0? I asked Nick Knupffer, Intel’s spokesperson this and received the following statement as a reply: "Intel is a supporter of USB 3.0. Intel is a leader in the USB IF and authored the xHCI specification.  Intel recognizes the benefits USB 3.0 brings to the industry. Historically, discrete USB controllers have lead USB transitions and enable early adoption of new USB standards in the marketplace, ramping readiness and availability of devices for integration of the standards in chipsets for mass adoption. Intel is actively engaged with the ecosystem to determine the appropriate intercept for USB 3.0 integration into our chipsets."

Now why would they write the Extensible Host Controller Interface [xHCI] only to purposely delay it?
The simple answer is they are not. In fact they need USB 3.0 for their Light Peak project and the sooner the better. It would make no sense to needlessly put it off. They, like everyone else, are trying to find a way to implement this in the chipset. It just takes time to get it there, in the meantime the consumer will have USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 available from their favorite OEMs like ASUS and GigaByte. They will be using the old and tested external controller but it will still be there and before most USB 3.0 components get to the market. The best part, this solution will benefit both AMD and Intel users at the same time.  

In the end, don?t believe the Hype, if you want USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 in your system, you will be able to do so within few weeks – despite the lack of direct chipset support from nVidia, Intel and AMD.