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.