Intel gives competitors access to part of preliminary USB 3.0 specification
An agreement is in sight in the dispute over the USB 3.0 specification.
Intel gave some initial information on USB 3.0, which will include a 5 Gbit/s – net – SuperSpeed data transfer mode, at the IDF developer forum a year ago. Since then, the global market leader in microchips has been quietly tinkering with a specification for USB 3.0 capable host controllers, which will equip PCs for the new standard, either as PCIe 2.0 expansion cards, or as integrated chip sets. However, the only people being kept up to date on development work at Intel are members of the USB 3.0 Promoter Group. This has led to complaints about Intel's information policy from AMD and Nvidia, Intel's final remaining competitors in the chip set market.
Now, Intel has announced that the specification version 0.90 for an Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI) for USB 3.0 will be available under a free licence to "contributing companies" and not limited to members of the USB Implementers Forum's USB 3.0 Promoter Group, such as NXP and NEC. The press release from Intel contains a typical statement of support from AMD – Nvidia, by contrast, is conspicuous by its absence.
According to Intel, companies wishing to have access to the xHCI specification must sign an adopter's agreement, which includes a RAND-Z (reasonable and non-discriminatory, zero fee) agreement.
Intel has also announced that version 0.95 of the xHCI specification will be released in the fourth quarter of this year. When USB 3.0 SuperSpeed will be usable in practice remains open to question – it is still not clear, for example, whether the Ibex Peak chip set, expected in around a year's time, will support USB 3.0.