SAN JOSE, Calif. Synopsys is announcing its plans to ship intellectual property cores for the USB 3.0 interface a week ahead of a conference where the initial spec for the fast interconnect is expected to be released.
USB Implementers Forum will convene its first SuperSpeed USB developers' conference in San Jose November 17. Companies including Hewlett-Packard, Intel, NEC, NXP, Microsoft and Texas Instruments are expected to attend the event where the 1.0 version of the specification reportedly will be released for public comment.
SuperSpeed USB will support maximum physical-layer throughput of 5 Gbits/s and application layer data rates of up to 350 Mbytes/second. The spec aims to speed transfers for high definition video and other uses where today's 480 Mbit/second USB 2.0 can be sluggish.
Intel Corp. announced in September 2007 it was working with a handful of partners on the USB 3.0 spec.
Synopsys will deliver intellectual property for USB 3.0 controllers, physical layer devices and verification as well as support for software drivers. The products will not be generally available until the second half of 2009, though partners in the company's early adopter program will get access to early next year.
"We have a lot of customers ready to take delivery in early 2009 and design ASICs with it over the next 12-24 months," said Eric Huang, a product marketing manager for Synopsys' DesignWare products. "I think there will be some [USB 3.0] chips in the third quarter of 2009 to enable a handful of products on the shelves late next year," he added.
It's too early to provide realistic cost or power estimates for USB 3.0 chips, said Gervais Fong, another DesignWare product marketing manager. However, he estimated USB 3.0 chips will have power consumption similar to 5 GHz PCI Express chips.
Synopsys is using dual power rails in its design. That enables as little as five percent of a chip to stay running on one power domain while other blocks on the chip are turned on and off as needed.
The company can provide System C transaction models for its cores so software developers can start writing drivers before test chips are produced. Synopsys also has a partnership with driver company MCCI (Ithaca, N.Y.) that can supply software stacks to enabled USB 3.0 on any operating system.
Microsoft has said it will not natively support USB 3.0 in Windows 7, its next version of the operating system. That's because the interconnect spec was not finished in time to make the cutoff for Win7.
Huang said software from MCCI can enable USB 3.0 devices on Windows 7 or other operating systems until native code becomes available. Gervais said he foresees USB 3.0 being used on camcorders, media players and even TVs to transfer movies, videos and other large files.