Even though there is a clear need for a high-speed external interface for personal computers, the adoption of USB 3.0 (which provides up to 4.8Gb/s of bandwidth) is expected to be relatively slow, mainly since Advanced Micro Devices and Intel Corp. do not plan to support SuperSpeed USB by mainstream chipsets even in 2011, according to an analyst. Moreover, Intel notes that in order to take advantage of USB 3.0 a new operating system is needed.
“SuperSpeed USB will not see the rapid adoption of its predecessor. And the two primary reasons will be those that contributed to the success of high-speed: less need for speed, and a slower roadmap for core logic chipset integration,” said Brian O'Rourke, the principal analyst at In-Stat market research firm.
According to information that was published earlier this year, AMD will only support USB 3.0 with its code-named Hudson M3 input/output controller (aimed at expensive systems only) due next year, whereas Intel only intends to support USB 3.0 with its post 6-series core-logic sets (Cougar Point), which implies that the world’s largest chipset designer only plans to implement SuperSpeed USB either in the second half of 2011 or sometime in 2012. In the meantime, desktops and notebooks will have to rely on discrete USB 3.0 controllers, which increase complexity and boost pricing of final solutions.
“PC OEMs hate to pay for anything! Integrated USB core logic chipsets are a free lunch for PC OEMs – they get to offer new technology without having to pay for it. They are only likely to add an integrated solution if there is customer demand, such as in the high-end mobile and desktop PC market. But SuperSpeed will not become mainstream until SuperSpeed USB core logic chipsets are introduced,” said Mr. O’Rourke.
In addition, since SuperSpeed USB driver is not present in Microsoft Windows 7 and it should be installed separately so that to take advantage of enhanced bandwidth, Intel appears to claim that until a new version of Windows arrives with integrated USB 3.0 driver, there will be no widespread adoption of the new interface.
It should be also kept in mind that while there are a lot of devices that require up to 400MB/s of bandwidth, such as external hard drives, USB flash drives, external optical drives, portable media players, digital still cameras and digital camcorders; there are also a lot of devices that do not need truly high bandwidth, including keyboards, mice, scanners, printers, multi-function peripherals, web cameras and so on.
According to In-Stat, all of the aforementioned factors will not mean that SuperSpeed will be unsuccessful, in fact, nearly 1.5 billion SuperSpeed devices are expected to ship in 2014. However, USB 3.0 will not eclipse USB 2.0 by then, as over 2 billion high-speed devices will ship that same year.