USB 3.0 xHCI spec 1.0 will require in-chipset support

Won’t come until Intel is ready

IT’S PRETTY INTERESTING what you can find out at the various events you attend as a tech journalist and today we found out about another reason why we’re not seeing USB 3.0 support built into chipsets. From our understanding it has nothing to do with cost or technology problems, as it all comes down to one thing – Intel isn’t ready to move away from the draft USB 3.0 xHCI specification.

We don’t want to get the company that told us this in trouble, so we’re going to leave it out of this, but we’re currently at revision 0.96 of the xHCI draft specification. xHCI stands for eXtended Host Controller Interface and according to Intel, it “describes the register-level host controller interface for Universal Serial Bus (USB) Revision 2.0 and above”. The spec is only accessible once you’ve signed an xHCI contributor agreement with Intel, as it’s only “intended for hardware component designers, system builders and device driver (software) developers,” according to Intel.

We were even told that AMD is pushing Intel to move to the final 1.0 revision of the xHCI specification which suggests that AMD is keen on implementing USB 3.0 in its chipsets. However, it seems like Intel is, at least at the moment, more interested in making its own USB 3.0 host controller, if the information we received a couple of weeks ago from another source is correct. If this really is the case, then it might take longer than expected until we get to see in-chipset support for USB 3.0.

This is unlikely to have a huge impact for most consumers, except the slight price premium you have to pay for a motherboard with USB 3.0 support. We’re still waiting for more than just storage products using the USB 3.0 interface, but judging from what we saw today there are other devices coming. However that’s another story.S|A

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