AMD opens up USB 3.0 for PCs with chipset support

The integration could bring USB 3.0 ports to more laptops

Upcoming chipsets from Advanced Micro Devices will support USB 3.0, which could make it easier for PC makers to add ports based on the interconnect to laptops.

The integration of USB 3.0 on AMD's A75 and A70M chipsets was characterized as a major milestone by the USB Implementers Forum, which is the standards setting organization for USB. The integration will allow hardware makers to "seamlessly incorporate" USB 3.0, the organization said Wednesday.

The new chipsets are already shipping to PC makers, said Phil Hughes, an AMD spokesman, in an e-mail. More details about the chipsets and USB 3.0 support will be provided at a later date, Hughes said.

The USB 3.0-compatible chipsets will be found in future laptops that use AMD's Fusion processors, which integrate a CPU and GPU on a single chip. AMD has already started shipping Fusion chips code-named Llano for mainstream PCs, which will become available later in the quarter. AMD's current Fusion C- and E-series chips for netbooks and low-cost PCs do not use chipsets with integrated USB 3.0 support.

Like its predecessor USB 2.0, USB 3.0 enables data transfers between computers and devices such as storage drives, but is 10 times faster. USB 3.0 transfers data at speeds of up to 5 gigabits per second.

Hewlett-Packard early last year became one of the first to add USB 3.0 ports in laptops, but had to attach a separate controller. USB 2.0 remains dominant, with USB 3.0 mostly available as an option on some high-end laptops.

Integration of USB 3.0 inside the chipset reduces the need for a separate controller. That integration provides a "strong incentive" for device makers to develop and release products compatible with the new standard, said Jeff Ravencraft, the president of USB-IF, in a statement issued on Tuesday.

AMD's rival Intel does not integrate support for USB 3.0 in its chipsets. Intel was not immediately available for comment on the topic.

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