Texas Instruments USB 3.0 host controller almost here

Other key parts ready today

TI logoTEXAS INSTRUMENTS HASNT been in a hurry to bring its USB 3.0 products to market, but it now appears that the company is getting ready to start rolling out its first few products. Today TI announced the availability of a USB 3.0 physical layer transceiver called the TUSB1310 which is targeting a wide range of devices such as smartphones, portable media players, navigation devices and digital still and video cameras etc.

The new PHY is only the first of many new USB 3.0 products to come from TI, although it’s an important one. So far USB 3.0 hasn’t found its way into much outside of mass storage products, but the new PHY will enable USB 3.0 support in a huge range of consumer orientated devices that so far haven’t been considered for the faster interface.

You might not think that USB 3.0 is needed for many of the devices that the PHY can be fitted to. However, wouldn’t you rather that it took mere seconds to copy that high definition video from your camcorder to the hard drive of your computer, instead of minutes? The PHY still requires that whatever device it goes into has everything but the PHY part of what makes USB 3.0 tick integrated into them, but it still makes life easier for companies developing custom USB 3.0 implementations into their hardware.

As we reported in April, TI was working on a USB 3.0 host controller to add to its line-up. Well, it turns out that the company is actually readying a couple of solutions, namely the TUSB7320 which is a two port USB 3.0 xHCI host controller, as well as the TUSB7340 which is a four port xHCI controller. There’s no word on when these two new host controllers will become available as TI’s website simply states that the products are coming soon, although we presume that the “preview” under the model names mean that samples are shipping to partners for evaluation. TI will also have its own four port USB hub controller and a USB 3.0 to SATA 6Gbps bridge solution. Again, both of these products have yet to launch.

NEC/Renesas might’ve been in control of the USB 3.0 PC host controller market so far, but it seems like things are about to change dramatically later this year. By then, we will see not only TI, but also VLI, Fresco Logic and Etron gear up production. That means that we’ll have no less than five manufacturers of USB 3.0 host controllers on the market of which at least two, if not three will offer four port host controllers. Hopefully this will prove to be the break that USB 3.0 needs to become a mainstream technology at an affordable price that we’ll see implemented on all motherboards and in all new notebooks.S|A

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