SoC Breakthrough Quenches The Thirst For USB Speed

With its launch of the SuperSpeed Universal Serial Bus (USB 3.0) SATA3 bridge SoC, Renesas Electronics effectively raised the bar on USB data-transfer speeds. According to the company, the chip will enable data transfer between a USB3.0 host system and a Serial ATA (SATA) device in external USB storage equipment.

What makes this new SoC special is that it’s the first USB 3.0 Bridge SoC to support the UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) protocol, which significantly increases throughput for large volumes of data. Renesas claims that USB 3.0 can achieve over 10X faster data-transfer speeds than USB 2.0. The device also can work in combination with Renesas’ advanced host-controller technology and UASP driver software, which boosts data-transfer performance as well.

It’s interesting to note that the UASP software isn’t exclusive to the Renesas USB 3.0 host controllers. It will also operate with AMD’s A70M and A75 chipsets. This follows close cooperation between the two companies—they plan to continue the collaboration to achieve compatibility with AMD’s future USB3-supporting chipsets.

The µPD720230 USB 3.0-SATA3 bridge SoC supports SuperSpeed USB transfer speeds of up to 5Gbps. It also supports the SATA Revision 3.0 6Gbps bit rate, achieving maximum data-transfer performance of USB 3.0.

Not surprisingly, power consumption was an important design consideration. The µPD720230 USB 3.0 SATA3 SoC comes in a 48-pin QFN package with a voltage regulator, and supports bus power modes that contribute to miniaturization of the end products.

The USB 2.0 standard only stipulates two states: the U0 normal state and the U3 suspend state. However, the USB 3.0 standard also stipulates the U1 and U2 power states to provide finer-grained suppression of power consumption. As a result, Renesas says that the USB 3.0 SoC reduces overall power consumption by approximately 40% when idling.

A license of Renesas’ UASP driver is included with the company’s µPD720230 USB 3.0 to SATA3 bridge. It’s available for license to other SATA bridge manufacturers, too. In fact, Renesas has already concluded a licensing agreement with LSI supplier Media Logic.

Mass production is scheduled to begin in October 2011. A combined production volume of 500,000 units per month is expected.

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