updated 04:45 pm EDT, Mon May 18, 2009
NEC USB 3 Controller
NEC claimed a minor record on Monday by becoming the first company to produce a hardware controller that supports the new USB 3.0 standard. The µPD720200 will let computers and other devices talk to USB 3.0 peripherals and theoretically allows for the peak 5Gbps transfers of the format, or roughly 10 times the speed of USB 2.0. The Japanese chipset nonetheless remains backwards compatible with both the 2.0 spec as well as 1.1 devices, although USB 3.0 ports themselves won't support 1.x.
In launching the technology, NEC says its hardware should be particularly useful for external hard drives and particularly solid-state drives, many of whom can transfer data at speeds far faster than USB 2.0 can handle and need the extra speed. These would also typically overwhelm FireWire 800 connections.
Test versions of the NEC chips will be made available to companies building USB 3.0-aware devices next month and should cost those companies $15 per part. When the first products will carry the chipset aren't mentioned, but hipments should climb to 1 million per month in September and will see the largest wave of companies start using USB 3.0 by the later half of 2010. [via Everything USB]