|We've seen some early USB 3.0 gear here and there, but it looks like the successor to everyone's favorite serial bus is off to a rocky start, with AMD and NVIDIA claiming that Intel is withholding crucial specifications necessary to develop an open host controller. Although Intel apparently already has working silicon, it's not willing to share -- so AMD and NVIDIA are working on a competing spec that will be introduced alongside Intel's. The first meeting of the alternate spec group is scheduled for next week, according to sources, but there could be problems with this diverging roadmap down the line: sources close to Intel say that the only reason the specs haven't been released is that they're not done, and that Intel doesn't want incompatible chipsets based on different versions of the spec out there. Sure, sure, but we're certain both sides are playing a little fast and loose with reality here -- good thing all these fools have until 2010 to get this sorted.|
Original Source [Everything USB]
Intel employee and blogger Nick Knupffer has written a post aimed at clearing up the issue (or at least giving the company's perspective). According to him, it's the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, not Intel, that controls development of the nascent standard. Intel is a huge presence in any organization it deigns to participate in, but it's scarcely the only big dog at the table—Microsoft, HP, AMD, and NVIDIA are all members as well.
As for the open host controller, Intel plans to make the device's specification fully available to everyone, at no charge, as soon as it's complete. Knupffer writes: "This isn’t only because we are just nice guys, but it is also because Intel has set the bar for technology leadership, and industry stewardship. It is Intel’s stewardship that has led to USB being the most successful interface in the history of computing. + We at Intel love it when available processor performance is used to the max." (emphasis mine) As an aside, I can't help wondering if that last sentence means we shouldn't expect any miracles when it comes to USB 3.0's CPU usage under load.
Intel's stance here makes a certain amount of logical sense, but it also may be a bit disingenuous and contradictory. First, Knupffer states that the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, not Intel, is in charge of USB 3.0 development. He then discusses Intel's "parallel but separate" development of a USB 3.0 open host controller specification at a cost of "gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man-hours" that the company will give away for free, and that other chipset manufacturers will be allowed to use as a blueprint for building their own USB 3.0 controllers.
Santa Clara's willingness to do the heavy lifting when it comes to designing the open host controller does save all of the other chipset manufacturers both time and money, but there's a distinct catch. Intel is the largest motherboard vendor and chipset manufacturer in the world, and its position as such gives it a massive amount of leverage when it comes to any sort of open standard implementation. A USB 3.0 open host controller is whatever Intel says it is, and none of the other chipset manufacturers (or even all of them together) have enough strength to change that. [...]
The issue here is incompatibility. Any controller that AMD or NVIDIA designs would have to be absolutely, 100 percent compatible with Intel's, right down to the very last degree. If it isn't, Intel wins by default, and consumers emphatically lose. At that point, the AMD/NVIDIA alliance would be forced to either shelve their own design, repair it, or actually release it into the market and hope consumers don't notice. The expected dearth of USB 3.0 devices at standard launch might make this last option more attractive than it should be—by the time USB 3.0 devices are widespread, such early chipsets would be phased out—but all three of these options represent a waste of time, money, and consumer goodwill.
Everybody goes their own way:
|Remember middle school? These guys do. NVIDIA, AMD, VIA and now SiS (only two capital letters? Not trying hard enough) have all teamed up in a fight against Intel of truly pubescent proportions. Intel has denied accusations of hiding the USB 3.0 spec, since it's not their spec to hide, and claims it has no obligation to disclose its actual host controller specification before it's ready. This apparently has the other chip makers scrambling to make their own host controller, so they aren't beholden to Intel's schedule. That could cause problems for the end product -- if they don't build theirs exactly like Intel's, and with Intel's already being on the market by the time they're done, they'll have to return to the drawing board and possibly delay their release by nine months. They claim this could give Intel two years of zero competition in the USB 3.0 space, but Intel figures since it plans to release the spec for free, is investing heavily in its development, and isn't done yet anyways, it doesn't owe those companies a thing. This just gets better and better.|
Edited by rabidgnome229 - 6/14/08 at 1:32pm