USB 3.0 Controversy
"Shots are fired between Intel and their competitors over the USB 3.0 specification"
USB 3.0 Controversy
Last week, AMD and Nvidia accused Intel
of holding onto their USB 3.0 host controller specification in order to get a head start over the competition. USB 3.0 is expected be quite a breakthrough, providing speeds up to 10 times faster than that of USB 2.0 at 5 Gb/s. Quite obviously, the two companies are rather pissed and even has gone so far as to say they will team up together and with Via Technologies in order to develop their own host controller specification.
"The challenge is that Intel is not...giving the specification to anybody that competes with CPUs and chipsets," said a source close to AMD who is familiar with the dispute.
"We are going to be forced to create a secondary specification" that would be introduced along with the Intel spec, the source close to AMD said. "To create a new open host controller standard for USB 3.0."
"We are starting development on it right now," the AMD source added. The first meeting of members of the alternate "open" specification is slated to take place next week, a source close to Nvidia said. "We fully intend to productize this spec."
The AMD source described USB 3.0 as "essentially PCI Express over a cable. And that intellectual property came from the PCI SIG"--the point being that Intel does not have a large intellectual property stake to defend.
A separate specification--though designed to be compatible with the Intel USB 3.0 spec--has the potential to create incompatibilities, the source close to AMD said. "This is not good for users. But we have no choice."
The article goes to detail responses to these accusations from an apparently inside source at Intel. Still, it seems Intel really wants to get their point across, releasing a semi-official statement in their blog yesterday saying much the same.
Intel wants to stress the fact that the point of contention here is Intel's USB 3.0 host controller specification, and not the actual USB 3.0 specification itself as some news sites insinuated. They refer to it as the "Dummies' Guide" to building a USB 3.0 compatible device.
Intel says (obviously) that they are not holding back the host controller specification, stating that it is not complete yet. The actual USB 3.0 specification will go public early in the second half of 2008. Intel hopes to follow shortly with their host controller spec, licensing it essentially free of charge. Intel makes sure to state that this was the same process that was taken in the release of the USB 2.0 and Wireless USB host controller specifications.
Intel also wants to make it clear that USB 3.0 is not simply PCI-Express over USB. In fact, they didn't borrow much at all from the PCI Special Interests Group's standard.
These responses are all well and good, but something that rather bugged me was how Intel gave them. They made use of quite a bit of what I'm sure many of us consider to be corporate press BS and condescension. (To see what I mean, check out the blog here
Is Intel truly giving their competitors the middle finger? Or are AMD and Nvidia jumping the gun?
Chipset manufacturer SiS has decided to join in on the team of Intel competitors developing its own USB 3.0 host controller specification. Now, all of Intel's major competitors in the chipset field are working together against what they feel is a conniving giant.
Nvidia has also decided to respond
to the issues brought up in the Intel blog.
"Effectively, what will end up happening as this plays out (is) the rest of us launch later. But even though we've developed to the Intel host controller spec, we may not interpret it exactly the same way as Intel has implemented it."
This will lead to further delays, according to Nvidia. "By then, they have become the de facto standard and we have no choice but to go back and respin (redesign) the chip, which then adds another nine months," Nvidia says. "Effectively, Intel is building in two years of green field--of a market where they're the sole provider and they can charge whatever they want for their chipsets."
Nvidia also took exception to this statement by Intel: "Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man-hours) in resources to create an Intel host controller spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology."
"I think they're overstating the resources and time required to get to a mature spec," said the Nvidia source.
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