When it shows up next year, the USB 3.0 specification should bring both vastly improved transfer speeds and backward compatibility with USB 2.0. That all sounds good in theory, but the way Intel is handling things reportedly has AMD and others riled up.
News.com quotes one source close to AMD as saying, "The challenge is that Intel is not...giving the specification to anybody that competes with CPUs and chipsets." To be more specific, Intel does plan to release the spec—but only at the end of the year or the beginning of 2009. The same source claimed that would give Intel free reign over the USB 3.0 market for "six to nine months," during which competitors would have to sit around and wait. The source believes Intel has no good reason to withhold the spec, since much of the intellectual property behind USB 3.0 comes from the PCI Special Interest Group.
What does Intel have to say about all this? News.com also spoke with a source close to Intel, who chimed in, "We do the work--at this point it's not an industry effort anymore--and then (we) hand over the work for free without any licenses." That particular source added, "Intel only gives it out once it's finished. And it's not finished. . . . If it was mature enough to release, it would be released."
News.com says AMD, Nvidia, and VIA could end up creating their own USB 3.0 specification in the meantime. Such a spec would be compatible with the Intel standard in theory, but users could run into snags. The source close to AMD said on the subject, "This is not good for users. But we have no choice."