Although USB 3.0 technology is currently only supported by rather expensive discrete controllers and is not projected to be supported by chipsets before the year 2011, the interest towards high-speed interconnection is tremendous. Western Digital and NEC Electronics Corp. have decided to jointly promote external storage devices with SuperSpeed USB interface.
"The wide adoption of external storage, for both expanding and backing up internal computer storage, highlights the need for faster interface transfer rates. The USB 3.0 interface offers a significant advance in data transfer speed. We are pleased to collaborate with NEC Electronics as a leading supplier of USB host devices in the introduction of USB 3.0 technology to the storage market,” said Robert Caddy, Jr., vice president of engineering for WD's branded products group.
As the first step toward WD's and NEC Electronics' goal to promote the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard, the companies plan to develop a USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) driver to deliver hard drives with very high performance, mass-storage capacity. UASP is a new industry-standard, high-performance mass-storage protocol being developed for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to overcome the performance boundaries of the Bulk Only Transfer (BOT) protocol, which has been used for traditional USB 2.0 speeds. The new UASP driver will be used with NEC Electronics' USB 3.0 xHCI (eXtensible Host Controller Interface) host controller (part number µPD720200), which appeared on the market as the world's first USB 3.0 host controller in June. USB 3.0 is capable of supporting data transfer rates of up to 5Gb/s (625MB/s), which is 10 times faster than the previous high-speed USB 2.0 transfer speeds.
Key features of the new UASP driver are:
- Support for the UASP mass-storage protocol;
- Data transfer rate is enhanced by 30%, with optimized power efficiency and smooth interoperability, compared to the existing BOT protocol;
- NEC Electronics' license program is available for any LSI (large scale integration) vendors who develop UASP-based LSI devices
"Partnering with WD enables us to combine our USB transfer technology with WD's data storage technology and provide added value to our customers. Starting with the new HDDs, WD and NEC Electronics are working together as the industrial leaders to expand USB 3.0 marketplace offerings with the highest quality and performance solutions while speeding time to market,” said Masao Hirasawa, deputy general manager of home multimedia division at NEC Electronics.