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ASUS Ready with U3S6 USB 3.0 SATA 6 Gb/s Addon Card

Just as ASUS was readying its first wave of socket LGA-1156 motherboards, the company picked up interest in offering SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0 as a feature set. With the P7P55D Premium motherboard, the company even used a PCI-Express 2.0 bridge chip to ensure the SATA 6 Gb/s controller - the Marvell 88SE9123-NAA2 - got a PCI-E 2.0 x1 link, which other manufacturers end up wiring a PCI-E 1.1 x1 link from the P55 PCH. In a bid to propagate the design, the company had also designed an addon card that works on the same principle. The the card has finally taken shape in the form of the ASUS U3S6 (USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s), complete with its missing USB 3.0 controller that provides two SuperSpeed 5000 Mbps ports. The interface bottleneck for the NEC µPD720200 USB 3.0 controller is also reduced by provision of a PCI-E 2.0 x1 link. Both connectors are wired to a PLX PEX8613 3-port/12-lane PCI-E 2.0 bridge chip, which takes in four PCI-Express lanes (typically PCI-E 1.1 lanes from the southbridge or P55 PCH), and gives out the required two links. Although there is no word on the card's price yet, PCSTATS reckons something around $30 likely. In that case, the card would be a steal deal, considering recently announced SATA 6 Gb/s addon cards by HighPoint that hold just the Marvell 88SE9123-NAA2, are priced over $60.

Gigabyte Details the P55A Series Motherboards, Support USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbps

Gigabyte's embracing new technologies such as USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbps in making motherboards has taken the shape of an entire series of motherboards, which intends to cover every price point the company was eying with its large socket LGA-1156 motherboard lineup. The series is designated by GA-P55A before the model identifier. The series is lead by the high-end GA-P55A-UD6, followed (in order) by GA-P55A-UD5, GA-P55A-UD4P, GA-P55A-UD4, GA-P55A-UD3P, GA-P55A-UD3R, and GA-P55A-UD3. All of these are ATX motherboards. Some of these, such as the UD4s, UD5, and UD6, are multi-GPU friendlier with PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots that split into x8, and share 8 lanes with the next slot, while in lower models, the second PCI-E x16 slot is electrical x4, and wired to the P55 PCH. In all these motherboards, the SATA 6 Gb/s ports are two in number, and are color-coded white. Similarly, USB 3.0 ports on all these models are two in number, and color-coded blue, located on the rear-panel. These motherboards support socket LGA-1156 processors from Intel, currently available as the quad-core Core i5, and Core i7 "Lynnfield" series. It remains unclear whether all of these new models replace the existing GA-P55 series motherboards (that lack USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s) from the market, or somehow coexist at slightly higher price-points. What is certain however, is that you need to pay attention to the model names, and look out for P55A in the model names, since the rest of the nomenclature is identical. Detailed specifications are found in the specs sheets below.

ASUS' Retail-Grade P6X58D Premium Motherboard Pictured

After releasing a wave of socket LGA-1156 motherboards under the P7P55D series, ASUS is ready with its newest socket LGA-1366 offering, based on the Intel X58 Express chipset, supporting Core i7 "Bloomfield" processors. The P6X58D Premium first surfaced back in July, but hit development roadblocks due to industry-wide issues with the SATA 6 Gb/s controller it used, which now seem to have been ironed-out. It brings to the table support for new technologies such as USB 3.0, and SATA 6 Gb/s, along with making use of the company's Xtreme Phase motherboard component design. The two SATA 6 Gb/s ports are color-coded white, and placed next to the SATA 3 Gb/s ports color-coded blue, provided by the ICH10R southbridge. The white ports are driven by a Marvell SATA 6 Gb/s controller. The two USB 3.0 ports on the other hand, are color-coded blue, and are placed next to the PS/2 connectors on the rear-panel. They are driven by an NEC-made controller.

The LGA-1366 socket is powered by a 16-phase circuit. The six DDR3 memory slots support up to 24 GB of DDR3 memory across a triple-channel (192-bit) memory interface. Components, heatsinks, and slots on the board stick to the blue/white/black color-scheme. Heatsinks over the VRM, northbridge, and southbridge are connected by heatpipes. Expansion slots include three PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (electrically x16, x8, x8, or x16, x16, NC, depending on how they're populated), two PCI, and one PCI-Express x1. Connectivity includes two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, USB 3.0, FireWire, and a number of USB 2.0 ports. ASUS-exclusive features include Precision Tweaker 2 (that provides voltage control with a fine-resolution), Stepless Frequency Selection, and ASUS CPU Parameter Recall. The new motherboard should reach markets this November.

Gigabyte Readies GA-P55A-UD4 with SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0

Gigabyte is readying a new socket LGA-1156 motherboard, the GA-P55A-UD4. Bearing resemblance with the GA-P55-UD4, the motherboard features upgraded connectivity, with support for USB 3.0, and SATA 6 Gb/s. The new model also features an upgraded CPU VRM, with a 12+2 phase design compared to the 8+2 phase design on the GA-P55-UD4. USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gb/s features are provided using additional controllers on board. A Marvell-made SATA 6 Gb/s two-port controller replaces the familiar Gigabyte GSATA2 controller, while an NEC-made controller provides two USB 3.0 ports on the rear-panel. The USB 3.0 ports are color-coded blue, and share the port cluster with the lone gigabit Ethernet connector, while the SATA 6 Gb/s connectors are color-coded white, next to the usual six SATA 3 Gb/s ones the P55 PCH provides.

The rest of the feature-set remains largely same, with four DDR3 DIMM slots to support up to 16 GB of memory, two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots (electrically x8 when both are populated) supporting ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI, Dolby Home Theater supportive onboard audio, among other standard issues. The Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4 will not replace GA-P55-UD4 from the market, it will coexist, albeit priced higher. It remains to be seen if this is the only "P55A" motherboard Gigabyte sells.

Active Media Products Announces Aviator 312 Line of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 External SSDs

Active Media Products, manufacturer of SSDs and innovative USB drives, today announced the Aviator 312 line of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 external SSDs. SuperSpeed USB 3.0 supports transfer speeds up to 4.8Gbits/sec -- ten times faster than USB 2.0. A312 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 external SSDs take advantage of USB 3.0's massive bandwidth, delivering unprecedented transfer speeds in an extremely compact mobile flash storage device. Measuring less than 3 inches long and only 0.2 inches thin, the A312 is smaller than a credit card and is designed to fit in a pocket. A312 SSDs can save a 25GB full-length HD movie in about two minutes. What used to take an hour to save will take only seconds with the A312 thanks to its scorching write speeds of up to 160 MB/s and read speeds up to 240 MB/s.

Aviator 312 SSDs are designed for external use, and include a carrying pouch and a USB 3.0 Micro-B cable for connection to any USB port. The 312 is fully backward compatible; it works in any USB 2.0 or 1.1 port, but requires a SuperSpeed port to reach its full performance capabilities. Unlike many other high speed external storage devices, the A312 does not require a separate power source. It draws all the power it needs directly from the USB bus. The A312 will be offered in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities.

Buffalo Announces USB 3.0 DriveStation External HDD

Buffalo Japan is ready with its first external hard drive that uses the new USB 3.0 interface to eliminate the bandwidth bottleneck posed by the older generation of the interface. The Buffalo DriveStation HD-HXU3, with its USB 3.0 SuperSpeed interface comes in capacities of 1 TB, 1.5 TB and 2 TB. The drive offers transfer rates of around 125 MB/s, on par with drives connected using the eSATA interface. The advantage of this however, is its seamless backwards compatibility with older USB 2.0 generation of the USB interface. The company has also announced the IFC-PCIE2U3 USB 3.0 controller. The two are expected to be available in Q4.

AMD 8-series Chipset Launch Schedule Updated

AMD's next set of consumer desktop platforms, the high-end "Leo" and mainstream "Dorado" are what will bring together AMD's newest system components, including its next round of CPUs, next-generation graphics processors from the DirectX 11 compliant Evergreen family, and the 8-series platform core-logic (chipset) to drive it all. According to latest information pieced together by VR-Zone, AMD's newest chipset will arrive in two rounds of launches, ranging between April and May, 2010.

The two rounds are centric to the platforms they will belong to. On the northbridge front, the enthusiast and high-performance 890FX and 890GX hit retail with products based on it appearing in April 2010, accompanied by the high-end SB850 southbridge. The three will make up the chipset offerings for the Leo platform, which succeeds the current Dragon platform. Following these, the 880G northbridge, accompanied by the SB810 southbridge will make for product launches in May 2010. This pair makes up the mainstream Dorado platform that succeeds the current Pisces platform. The parts will have passed two stages of sampling by this November, and mass production commences in February and April. AMD's newest chipsets are bound to bring in new technologies such as SATA 6 Gb/s, USB 3.0, integrated MAC, and integrated clock generator, along with several other changes.

ASUS Prepares P7P55D Premium, Equips SATA III

Here's our ASUS P55 motherboard of the day: the P7P55D Premium. Positioned in the high-end segment of socket LGA-1156 motherboards, this board boasts of support for SATA III 6 Gbps. Associated with the SATA III controller, is also an interesting feature. To begin with, the CPU is powered by a digital PWM circuit with "32+3" phases. Sure there are that many chokes, but we do suspect choke redundancy here. The CPU is wired to four DDR3 DIMM slots to support dual-channel memory.

Unlike the P7P55D Deluxe, this board makes do with two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, each of which arrange to 8-lanes PCI-E when both are populated. Other expansion slots include two PCI-E x1 and two PCI. Connectivity options include two gigabit Ethernet controllers, 8 channel audio, and a number of USB and Firewire ports. From the looks of it, there's also a place-holder for the NEC µPD720200 USB 3.0 controller, and its marked blue-coloured USB ports, though it's MIA.

LucidPort Starts Shipping First USB 3.0 to SATA Bridge Chip

LucidPort Technology commenced shipping of the industry's first USB 3.0 to SATA bridge chip, the LucidPort USB300. The chip connects a SATA II hard drive, or solid state drive to a USB Full-speed 1.1, Hi-speed 2.0, and Super-speed 3.0 port. It supports native command queuing (NCQ), AES 128/256-bit encryption, and transfer-rates as high as 210 MB/s when used with Windows Mass Storage driver. It offers even higher transfer-rates when used with the new USB-attached SCSI (UAS) driver. The most prominent applications of this chip includes external hard-drives, and external drive enclosures. Competitors such as PLX, Fujitsu, and Faraday Electronics, etc., are expected to release similar chips later this year.

ASUS P6X58 Premium Detailed, Updates Platform with USB 3.0 and SATA III

Motherboard mogul ASUS is ready with a new premium motherboard for the LGA-1366 platform. The P6X58 Premium breaks away from the "P6T" nomenclature the company used for its Intel X58-based motherboards, and flashed "X58" in the model name. This motherboard brings two new connectivity standards to the platform: USB 3.0 "SuperSpeed", and SATA III 6 Gbps. It uses additional controllers onboard to expand the chipset's feature-set.

The board looks similar to the P6T Deluxe series at a glance, but uses a different layout of its expansion slots, rear-panel, and connectors in general. Unlike with the P6T Deluxe, the three PCI-Express x16 are spaced-out, with the first two (blue) slots providing full x16 lane bandwidth, with the third (white) one sharing 8 lanes with the second slot (x16, x8, x8, when all three slots populated). The chipset+VRM cooler is nearly identical to the one on the P6T Deluxe. The CPU is powered by a 16-phase circuit.

Silverstone has More up Their Sleeve, Offers the Raven 2 Guts Inside Another Case

While the Raven series was the only case with the unique layout up to this point, Silverstone has put the new guts not only into the Raven 2, but also into the Fortress 2 (FT02). It will come in black or silver at a price tag of around 200 US Dollars. Then there is the GD04, which is an affordable mATX HTPC case. The unique aspect is certainly the short depth of the chassis, so it should fit well into your A/V rack. The GD04 will sell for 99 US Dollars. The GD05 is similar, but features a plastic front, lined with a thin sheet of aluminum. This drives the price down to 79 US Dollars.

NEC Rolls-out First USB 3.0 Add-on Cards

NEC unveiled the first add-on cards based on its recently announced µPD720200 USB 3.0 host controller. This is the typical route taken by a company to propagate the standard in an environment where motherboard vendors and chipset makers haven't yet embraced it. For the desktop segment, the reference-design PCI-Express x1 add-on card provides two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports that are backwards-compatible with USB 2.0, 1.1, and 1.0. NEC also released an add-on card for notebooks, in the ExpressCard-34 form-factor based on the same controller, offering the same two ports. With these reference designs, NEC plans to propagate add-on card vendors to design their own cards based on the NEC µPD720200 controller. Typically, these cards should be priced around the $15~20 mark. A successor to USB 2.0, USB 3.0 offers 10-times the bandwidth (4.8 Gbps), although it will take a while for devices to use all that bandwidth, let alone support the standard. Perhaps this is why the company seems to find PCI-Express x1 sufficient as its system interface.

NEC Electronics Introduces World's First USB 3.0 Host Controller

NEC Electronics today introduced the world's first Universal Serial Bus (USB) host controller (part number µPD720200) for the new SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard. NEC Electronics expects rapid adoption of the device and standard as the need to transfer larger and larger amounts of information between PCs to external hard-drives, portable electronics devices, and flash-based thumb drives, continues to grow rapidly.
The µPD720200 device is a host controller for PCs and other digital devices, and is based on the new version of the SuperSpeed USB standard. Supporting the world's fastest USB transfer speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second (Gbps) of data, which is 10 times faster than previous USB 2.0 transfer speeds. The NEC Electronics device, as well as the standard, is fully backward compatible with the USB 2.0, 1.1 and 1.0 versions of the USB standard.

AMD to Showcase Tigris Mobile Platform at Computex 2009

With the notebook and sub-notebook segments, AMD faces an even taller cliff to climb as far as earning market-share goes. Having tasted much-needed success with the Dragon platform, AMD plans to deliver the same technologies to the mobile segment, with the Tigris platform. The platform consists of a 45 nm AMD dual-core "Caspian" processor, coupled with AMD RS880M chipset, and optionally, an ATI Mobility Radeon 55 nm or 40 nm M9X mGPU setup. The company plans to showcase this at the upcoming Computex 2009 event held in Taiwan. The platform is targeted at the 14-inch (and above) mainstream notebook segment, while the company continues to push Yukon and Congo platforms for 13-inch (and below) sub-notebooks. The source also revealed that AMD could detail its next-generation mobile platform for 2010, that uses 45 nm quad-core processors, RS800M series chipset, with support for DDR3 memory and USB 3.0.

DisplayLink Demonstrates Market Success, Sells more than 1 Million USB Graphics Chips

DisplayLink Corp. today celebrated reaching sales of more than one million USB graphics semiconductors. Embedded in more than thirty consumer and business products, DisplayLink chips - the DL-120 and DL-160 - make it possible for people to connect various visual computing devices to displays with an easy USB connection.

"DisplayLink has completely reinvented the way computers talk to displays. Our IC's make it possible to use standard plug and play USB to connect a laptop to one or more displsys, bringing the world a major step closer to the ideal "single world connector" status. Achieving sales of one million chips clearly shows the mainstream reach of our technology with customers and end-users who readily appreciate the simplicity of our approach and the productivity benefits of using multiple displays" said Hamid Farzaneh, president and CEO of DisplayLink.

AMD SB850 Southbridge to Pack Gen. 3 SATA 6 Gbps Support

As the market receives AMD's homegrown chipsets well since its successful 7-series, the company is preparing a new breed of platform core-logic technologies that will serve present and upcoming generations of the company's processors. From what we know so far, the company has designed the RD8xx and RS880, and has reportedly prepared prototype motherboards based on the chipsets. Several motherboard vendors have already prepared their upcoming SKUs based on the RS880 (AMD 880G), though all of these feature current SB710/SB750 series southbridge chips.

The successor, SB850, has been known to bring in an expanded feature set, and more importantly, an update with its storage controller. The southbridge will be one of the first ones to feature the third-generation SATA interface, that offers a maximum bandwidth of 6 Gbps between the system and the storage device, in comparison to 3 Gbps SATA II offers. In RAID mode, the controller will provide RAID 0, 1, JBOD, and RAID 5 modes. Six SATA channels will be supported in all. Other known features include support for 14 USB ports, albeit USB 2.0. AMD won't be embracing USB 3.0 just yet. The new southbridge will be released in Q4 2009 according to a portion of a roadmap slide by the company.

AMD to Sell DirectX 11 Notebook Integrated GPUs by 2011

Being on the forefront of technology adoption as far as its graphics products go, AMD will have a notebook platform with DirectX 11 compliant integrated GPUs ready by 2011, reveal company slides sourced by Expreview. The iGPU will be part of the company's "Accelerated Processing Unit" (APU) design approach to the PC's central processing. The APU draws parallels with Intel's upcoming processor designs where the CPU package holds both the CPU and northbridge dice in a multichip-module. One of the first AMD APUs, codenamed "Llano" will be part of the company's "Sabine" mobile platform. Typically consisting of the CPU, a DDR3 memory controller, a northbridge with integrated graphics processor, and the PCI-Express root complex, APU eliminates discrete northbridge from board design.

Slated for 2011, the Llano APU comes out at a time when DirectX 11 is expected to be an established API. The iGPU will also pack UVD 3.0, a next generation hardware-accelerated video decoder by AMD. It will be built on the 32 nm manufacturing process by AMD's foundry partner(s). It features up to 4 x86 processing cores, an iGPU, a memory controller supporting DDR3-1600 memory, 128-bit floating-point execution units (present even with current generation Phenom processors), and a BGA design with a low-TDP package. Llano will be accompanied by the SB9xxM series southbridge. This chip would make for most of the board's nucleated machinery apart from the APU. It will integrate the "DAC" (we interpret audio DAC), USB 3.0 hubs with 16 ports, a 6-port SATA controller, and clock-generator.

Symwave and Seagate to Demonstrate World's First USB 3.0 Storage Solution at CES 2009

Symwave, a semiconductor supplier of high-performance analog/mixed-signal connectivity solutions for the PC, consumer and mobile devices, today announced collaboration with Seagate to demonstrate Symwave's USB 3.0 storage controller device designed to comply with the SuperSpeed (USB 3.0) specification revision 1.0. The technology demonstration is the world's first consumer product application of USB 3.0 and will take place at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada from January 8-11, 2009. The demonstration will showcase streaming data to and from a commercially available external storage device at speeds previously unattainable with legacy USB technology.

Symwave to Demonstrate USB 3.0 External Storage Solution at CES

A major update and commercial introduction to the USB technology has been long overdue. While most devices such as printers, MFDs and other office automation equipment seem fairly comfortable with the bandwidth USB 2.0 offers, with storage solutions where large amounts of data transfer is involved, USB needs a facelift, so much so that companies are slowly gaining interest in technologies such as eSATA.

At the upcoming CES event, Symwave is planning a demo of an external storage solution based on the new USB 3.0 "SuperSpeed" technology. The device it plans to demo could be an external hard-drive or an enclosure with USB 3.0 compliancy. With 10 times the available bandwidth (4.8 Gbps or 600 MB/s), the new technology looks to provide devices with both performance and backwards compatibility with older USB standards. The Symwave storage solution will be one of first devices the technology kicks-off with.

USB 3.0 Specification Now Available

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced the completion of the USB 3.0 specification, the technical map for device manufacturers to deliver SuperSpeed USB technology to the market.

SuperSpeed USB brings significant power and performance enhancements to the popular USB standard while offering backward compatibility with billions of USB-enabled PCs and peripheral devices currently in use by consumers. Delivering data transfer rates up to ten times faster than Hi-Speed USB (USB 2.0) with optimized power efficiency, SuperSpeed USB is the next step in the continued evolution of USB technology.

USB 3.0 SuperSpeed Demonstrated

USB 2.0 has been around for quite some time now, it's already become a serious bottleneck with storage devices where its "up to" 480 Mbps speed limits transfer-rate significantly compared to what today's devices demand. External-SATA had proven to eradicate that bottleneck by providing speeds for external storage devices on par with internal fixed drives. A newer standard of the USB is in the works, this newer interface on paper promises 10-times the amount of bandwidth USB 2.0 did, that's 4.8 Gbps, more than three times over that of e-SATA, 1.5 times over e-SATA II.

At the ongoing Intel Developer Forum (IDF) event, prototype USB 3.0 boards and cables were shown transferring at 307+ MB/s. The USB 3.0 coalition proclaims this is fast enough to transfer a 27 GB HD in just 60 to 70 seconds. This interface is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 (HiSpeed) and USB 1.1 (FullSpeed), and will be referred to as SuperSpeed. A representative from Ellisys said current flash memory and hard drive storage capacities are outstripping USB 2.0 transfer speeds.
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