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Widespread adoption of USB 3.0 delayed until late 2011 at earliest

Posted on Thursday, April 08 2010 @ 20:09:55 CEST by

CNET reports USB 3.0 may not become as prevalent this decade as USB 2.0 has been through most of the past decade. Adoption of the new standard isn't expected to take off until at least late 2011, mainly because Intel hasn't made it a priority to integrate the technology. Third party companies like NEC offer USB 3.0 host controllers, but these chips cost quite a lot of money and PC OEMs aren't willing to pay for it. In-Stat analyst Brian O'Rourke expects USB 3.0 won't become mainstream until Intel offers it for free as part of its chipsets:
"The real sweet spot of a new version of USB comes when it is integrated into the chipset of the PC," said Brian O'Rourke, an analyst at In-Stat. "That's when USB becomes mainstream...By integrating it into its chipsets, Intel essentially allows PC OEMs to offer that new flavor of USB for free," he said.

But Intel is not expected to put USB 3.0 in its silicon until 2011, according to O'Rourke. That means the interval between the initial introduction of USB 3.0 by NEC in May 2009 and Intel's adoption will be much longer than the transition was in 2001-2002. "In this go-round, it's going to be about two and a half years instead of a year," said O'Rourke, who also writes about this in a blog entitled "Transition to SuperSpeed USB Will Be Slow."
One of the reasons why Intel is so slow to adopt USB 3.0 is because USB 2.0 is doing a pretty good job for most people. Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, explains people who can benefit from the extra transfer speed of USB 3.0 are typically willing to pay a premium for high-end systems that have USB 3.0, and that regular folks don't necessarily need the extra bandwidth.
"USB 2.0 is doing a pretty good job for most people," according to Brookwood. And what about HD camcorders and HD digital cameras, which can benefit from the extra transfer speed that USB 3.0 offers? "Those people are typically willing to pay a premium for high-end systems that have USB 3.0," he said, referring to pricey mobile workstations like HP's 8000 series EliteBook and Dell's M6500 Precision laptop.

O'Rourke offers a similar assessment. "There will be a lot fewer applications that transition from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0 just because they don't necessarily need the bandwidth," he said, adding that peripherals like printers, for example, don't benefit from moving to USB 3.0.



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