Via chip to enable smaller, cheaper USB3 thumb drives

Via doesn't get a whole lot of attention these days, but it's still cranking out new products. Its latest creation is the VL750 USB 3.0 to NAND flash controller, which recently received certification from the USB Implementers Forum and has begun sampling. Via says this chip is the first of its kind to be USB-IF certified, and because it removes the need for an auxiliary bridge chip, it will enable "more compact, more power efficient and more cost effective Flash drives."

Other details about the VL750 aren't quite as exciting, except perhaps for the fact that it supports 2x-nm and 3x-nm flash memory and enables speeds as high as 100MB/s via USB 3.0 (or 35MB/s via USB 2.0). Now, some folks might point out that USB 3.0 offers top theoretical speeds of 625MB/s—and they'd be right—but 100MB/s is already pretty darned decent for a small, inexpensive thumb drive. Such products aren't usually known for packing ultra-high-speed flash memory.

Here's hoping the new Via silicon will help make cheap USB 3.0 thumb drives more ubiquitous. We already seem to be on the right track, with Super Talent having unleashed an 8GB offering priced at just $15 earlier this month. (That drive probably doesn't use the Via controller, of course, since the VL750 is only at the sampling stage right now—but more like it may follow.) Too bad USB 3.0 support isn't expected to appear in Intel chipsets until 2012.

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