Intel to support USB 3.0 in 2012, despite Thunderbolt

By on April 14, 2011, 3:02 PM
Intel has confirmed that it will support USB 3.0 starting next year. Intel's latest 32nm Sandy Bridge processors only support USB 2.0, but Ivy Bridge, which will be manufactured using a 22nm process, will come with USB 3.0.

"Intel is going to support USB 3.0 in the 2012 client platform. We're going to support Thunderbolt capability. We believe they're complementary," Kirk Skaugen, a vice president at the Intel Architecture Group said at Intel's developer conference in Beijing today, according to CNET. "We encourage all of you working on peripherals around the PC to engage on both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt."

The fact Intel is urging developers to target both USB 3.0 and its new Thunderbolt technology is important. There is speculation the company delayed supporting USB 3.0 in order to push Thunderbolt, its own high-speed connection standard capable of transferring data at 10Gbps.

Currently, Intel has support for USB 3.0 only in select desktop motherboards that use a separate part from NEC to implement the functionality. Ivy Bridge will put USB 3.0 directly into Intel chipsets. Advanced Micro Devices is also on board: the chipsets that come with its Fusion processors will support USB 3.0.

Intel has made a similar promise for DirectX. Although they feature integrated graphics, current Sandy Bridge chips only support DirectX 10.1, but Ivy Bridge will add support for DirectX 11.

Details regarding Ivy Bridge leaked earlier this week. The new processors, which are slated for the first half of 2012, will feature a new dual-channel DDR3 memory controller with official support for DRAM speeds of up to DDR3-1600 MHz, the usual PCI-Express 2.0 x16 hub, Turbo 2.0 support, a new graphics core with DirectX 11 support, and TDP ratings ranging between 35W and 95W.

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