USB 3.0: Nvidia responds to Intel, SiS joins fight

Nvidia has responded to Intel's latest statement on the USB 3.0 specification. Chipset maker SiS has joined the group of four.

Nvidia is now firing back at Intel. The world's largest graphics chip maker has responded to Intel's latest statement on the USB 3.0 specification and said chipset maker SiS has also joined the group of companies at odds with Intel.

There are now four companies vying with Intel--all chipset makers: Nvidia, Advanced Micro Devices, Via Technologies, and SiS.

And they're moving quickly to establish their own so-called "host controller" specification. "We're moving fast. We've already staffed it internally. We have resources submitted from all of the companies (Nvidia, AMD, Via, and SiS)," said a source from Nvidia who asked to remain anonymous.

A host controller allows computer devices to communicate with the operating system and is a crucial component for implementing USB 3.0 on computer systems.

An Intel spokesperson posted a blog on Wednesday stating Intel's position on the release of the host controller specification related to USB 3.0.

Intel stated emphatically that the host controller is outside the scope of the USB 3.0 specification and that the company is under no obligation to release the specification before it deems the specification ready for release. Moreover, because Intel is giving it away for free, chipset makers shouldn't complain, the blog said.

Nvidia counters that if it doesn't get the specification from Intel in a timely manner--meaning now--the group members will be forced to come up with their own host controller, causing a cascade of potential delays. "Effectively, what will end up happening as this plays out (is) the rest of us launch later. But even though we've developed to the Intel host controller spec, we may not interpret it exactly the same way as Intel has implemented it."

This will lead to further delays, according to Nvidia. "By then, they have become the de facto standard and we have no choice but to go back and respin (redesign) the chip, which then adds another nine months," Nvidia says. "Effectively, Intel is building in two years of green field--of a market where they're the sole provider and they can charge whatever they want for their chipsets."

Nvidia also took exception to this statement by Intel: "Intel is investing heavily (think gazillions of dollars and bazillions of engineering man-hours) in resources to create an Intel host controller spec in order to speed time to market of the USB 3.0 technology."

"I think they're overstating the resources and time required to get to a mature spec," said the Nvidia source.

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