ALTHOUGH THERE ARE about half a dozen companies with USB 3.0 host controllers in their product portfolio by now, it appears that getting USB-IF certification is a huge stumbling block. However, Etron is now expecting to be the first of the Taiwanese USB 3.0 host controller makers to pass the scrutiny of the USB-IF and to be allowed to use its certification logo on its products.
According to Digitimes, Renesas is currently retailing its host controllers for about $4 a piece depending on the quantity purchased, but Etron will be offering its chips for between $1.8-2, that’s about half the price or less of the Renesas controller. ASRock is said to already have signed up with Etron to use its host controllers in favour of the more expensive solution from Renesas, something that should lead to a wider support for USB 3.0 even on the most basic of motherboards.
This does of course hang on the USB-IF certification or ASRock is going to have to delay its boards. From what we saw back at Computex, both ECS and Gigabyte are considering using Etron’s USB 3.0 host controllers and MSI is also rumored to consider Etron’s solution. Asus is said to be going with Asmedia for at least some of its boards and considering that Asmedia is an Asus subsidiary, this was to be expected. We haven’t heard of VIA scoring any design wins for its host controllers as yet, but several motherboard manufacturers are evaluating use of Via’s four port USB 3.0 hubs on their boards as a way to lower the cost per USB 3.0 port.
As for the US players, neither Fresco Logic nor TI seems to have had any of their host controllers certified after a quick search over at the USB-IF database. TI could potentially have the first four port USB 3.0 host controller in the market, but just as we reported about the upcoming four port controller from Renesas, TI has decided to go down the budget route and rely on a single PCI Express lane as the interface for its four port product. Next year should not only see an intense price war in the USB 3.0 host controller market, but it should hopefully see a much wider adoption of the standard not only on motherboards, but also in notebooks, especially as many companies have developed smaller and more power efficient solutions more suitable for notebook use.S|A
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