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Intel confirms native USB 3.0 coming with Ivy Bridge

updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu April 14, 2011

Intel says USB 3 due for Ivy Bridge

Intel during the Developer Forum in Beijing confirmed late Wednesday that its 2012 processor architecture would have native USB 3.0 support. Backing leaked slides, architecture group VP Kirk Skaugen explained that Ivy Bridge, a 22 nanometer version of the Sandy Bridge design used in today's Core processors, should support the interface. He saw the 5Gbps interface as "complimentary" to Thunderbolt in an online event CNET caught.

The support should be available in both the notebook and desktop chipsets, codenamed Chief River and Panther Point. Both and their matching Ivy Bridge processors are due in early 2012 and will likely ship in time for the CES expo in early January.

Intel has been unusually conservative with USB 3.0 despite having been a key architect for the original USB standard. Some had speculated that Intel was trying to drive support of Thunderbolt, but the company had already grafted on support by using an NEC controller chipset, the only real chipset early on, for certain desktop mainboards. AMD pledged itself this week to supporting USB 3.0 with its Fusion-based processors.

Thunderbolt will feel competitive heat from USB 3.0 since its bandwidth is only twice as fast as USB 3.0. The Apple co-developed technology mostly has to count on advantages besides speed, such as its low lag and its ability to carry a display signal on the same wire.

Intel's hesitance was at least partly responsible for a lack of USB 3.0 in Macs. The port has shown up months earlier in Windows PCs, but the need for the NEC chip has usually meant having just one or two USB 3.0 ports.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Zanziboy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    USB 3 Compliments Thunderbolt

    The hype over USB 3 revolves around the 5 Gbps bandwidth support. However, USB 3.0 is very similar to USB 2 in that it requires CPU intervention to support data transfer. Besides being twice as fast, Thunderbolt is less taxing on the CPU and therefore provides better overall system performance.

  1. Inkling

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Aha.... Yet another reason to resist switching my white MacBook for a sleek MacBook Air. A thousand dollars ought to be enough in itself to pay for carrying a few extra pounds (I need the exercise), but it helps to have other excuses. "I'll wait for Ivy Bridge, and that native USB 3.0 support. Yes, I will. That's really important, although I don't know quite why."

    And by the time Sandy Bridge comes out, there's bound to be other features slipping above horizon to encourage yet another wait (gigibit WiFi, mind-reading, teleportation...). I've got what people in marketing call 'sales resistance.' They hate people like me.

    But it's also true that a few years back even a low-end laptop acquired all the power needed for the tasks I do regularly. Before that, my upgrades were driven by the fact the new things I wanted to do were painfully slow on my old Mac, so I had to have a new one. That's no longer true. CPU usage in my four-year-old laptop rarely rises about five percent.

    We'll see if Apple manages to pull a 'you gotta get this' rabbit out of the hat with Lion and a Multitouch that requires a larger and fancier trackpad. So far, I am not impressed. Even the Apple exec demoing Multi-touch got confused about what each of the swipes and pinches did. Add in my native clumsiness and the tricks I've developed for the current UI, and that Multi-touch pad may be a hard sell.

    Even more important, I hate visual interfaces that substitute icons for words under the silly idea that "pictures make things easy." I thought that was stupid when an InfoWorld reporter first said it to me in the late 80s. I still think it's stupid. Words have a clear meaning. Icons are vague and ambiguous. They're international in the sense that that make no sense in any language.

    And my main problem lies with leaks and patent filings that suggest Apple may take a perfectly intelligible word-menu-based UI and turn it into something resembling Office in Windows 7 and those gosh awful tabbed ribbons, perhaps mutated in some dark Cupertino lab into still worse circles. Since work sometimes cruelly demands that I work with Office for Windows, I know what that means. Misery piled upon misery.

    Nor is the problem confined to me. I talked with someone high up at Microsoft training who admitted to me that it took him over two years to get used to those blasted ribbons, tabs and icons That sort of learning curve, I felt like saying to him, isn't really a learning curve. It's a misery index. Use it long enough and you simply grow accustomed to the pain.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Can Intel get any more obvious with their attempts to downplay USB 3 in hopes of pushing Thunderbolt? Who cares what the users want, it's more about what's best for Intel's bottom line. And Thunderbolt being 'theirs' (where USB is no longer controlled by Intel) gives them more power in the marketplace.

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