NEC to cut USB 3.0 chip prices amid increased competition

By on July 23, 2010, 2:16 PM
With Intel holding back USB 3.0 support on its own chipsets until sometime in 2011, or even further, NEC has been able to capitalize on the slowly but steady adoption from manufacturers. Pretty much every motherboard we've seen sporting 'SuperSpeed' connectivity used one of NEC's controller chips, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they've garnered an impressive majority of the market -- 90% according to a report by DigiTimes.

But the company is not ready to rest on its laurels, though. Apparently NEC is planning to significantly cut prices on its first- and second-generation USB 3.0 controllers, while introducing a faster and lower consumption chip in the first quarter of next year for less than $2. The move comes as Taiwan-based chipmakers ASMedia (a subsidiary of Asus), Etron, and Via are entering the market with aggressive price points.

ASMedia is already offering USB 3.0 controllers, priced at $1.7-1.8 for batch orders, while VIA has unveiled its VL800 chip which can control up to four USB 3.0 ports -- two more than NEC's. However, since all three are still awaiting certification by USB-IF, their USB 3.0 chips are unlikely to show up in products until December 2010 or January 2011.

NEC's price cut strategy will help it secure a few more deals in the meantime, and though it's expected to hurt the company's profits, income from IP licensing fees to the likes of Intel, AMD and Microsoft should help cover the losses.

User Comments: 4

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Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

As evidenced in our recent AMD AM3 budget motherboard shootout, motherboards costing less than $100 are carrying USB 3.0 chips already, so price is not a barrier at this point. More practical uses on devices other than external hard drives have to make an appearance for USB 3.0 to become mainstream.

treetops treetops said:

I wonder if you can get more bang for your buck when buying a gaming mouse with a 3.0 port. Probably not.

cardriverx said:

The speeds/precision that a human can max out at can definably be covered by usb 2.0, but im sure mice manufactures will use usb 3.0 to try to sell more product.

I mean I am just basing this on my personal experiences with current mice, im sure for a mouse to hit the usb 2.0 data ceiling it would need a dpi of like 10000 and a polling rate of like .01 ms lol.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I guess at some point I'll probably buy a USB 3.0 enclosure. I have a eSATA one, but for some reason Windows 7 has issues on coming out of sleep and recognizing the drive, so I had to switch that to USB 2.0 mode, and quite a staggering change.

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