USB 3.0 controversy: Intel defends itself


— 12:42 PM on June 12, 2008

Last week, we pointed to a report that said AMD, Nvidia, and VIA could make a separate USB 3.0 specification. Quoting unnamed sources, the report suggested that Intel was withholding the spec from competitors—something it had no good reason to do, since USB 3.0 intellectual property allegedly originated in large part from the PCI Special Interest Group.

Intel's Nick Knupffer has now responded to the article, and his take on the situation differs quite radically. He says the original report fails to distinguish between the USB 3.0 specification itself and Intel's USB 3.0-compatible Host Controller specification. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group will release the USB 3.0 spec in the second half of this year, and Intel is investing "gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man hours" to make sure its Host Controller spec is ready in time.

Knupffer defines the Host Controller spec as "a ‘Dummies Guide’ to building a USB 3.0 compatible piece of silicon." Intel reportedly plans to make the HC spec available "early in second half of 2008 with a no-royalty licensing obligation," allowing competitors to avoid "repeating the massive investment undertaken by Intel." However, Knupffer says the spec isn't ready yet, and Intel doesn't want to release it ahead of schedule for fear of potential compatibility snags. Knupffer adds that the USB 3.0 spec "has not borrowed heavily from the PCI-SIG," either.

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