Controller round-up seeks fastest USB 3.0 solution

— 10:44 AM on August 24, 2011

USB 3.0 was a long time coming, and it finally seems to be taking hold. Blue SuperSpeed ports can be found on a range of devices these days, from enthusiast-oriented motherboards to ultraportable laptops and netbooks. The selection of controller silicon has expanded, as well. While NEC's two-port D720200 dominated the scene for more than a year, it now has competition from AMD, ASMedia, Etron, Fresco Logic, and VIA. So, which is fastest?

VR-Zone has put together an interesting roundup comparing the performance all the USB 3.0 host controllers on the market, including a preview of NEC's upcoming D720201, which doubles its predecessor's port count. As it turns out, USB 3.0 speeds can vary quite a bit from one solution to the next. The site came away most impressed with controllers from ASMedia, Etron, and NEC. It was also disappointed by the USB 3.0 controller integrated in AMD's A75 chipset, although to be fair, that config used a different motherboard than the other ones.

The lack of real-world file copy tests makes it difficult to draw too many conclusions about the results, but VR-Zone does have a few interesting notes on compatibility. Not all USB 3.0 cables are created equal, the site says, and it claims to have run into more than a few compatibility issues that impacted performance. I haven't encountered any problems with the USB 3.0 hardware we've had in the labs, but we've been drawing from a much smaller pool of devices and controllers.

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