WD And NEC Link Up To Promote USB 3.0 By Developing UASP Driver

We hope you're ready for speed in the coming year, because that's exactly what you're going to get. Be it higher-speed wireless protocols or higher-speed ports, 2010 is shaping up to be a year in which our mainstream connection options finally match up with the amount of content we're moving around. We fully expect those two to become off-balanced again in around a year or two when pretty much everything worth watching shifts to 720/1080p (even online, we're hoping), but at least for awhile we should be at least fairly happy with the transfer rates available on primary consumer electronics.

USB 3.0 (or SuperSpeed USB, if you will) isn't anything unheard of, but CES 2010 will prove to be a launching pad for a number of new devices based around the specification. In a surprising early announcement, market mainstays Western Digital and NEC have decided to collaborate in order to promote USB 3.0. Naturally it's in the best interest of both companies to get consumers interested in the next iteration of what's easily the most widely used and recognized PC port on the planet, but it seems as if the two will be doing a lot more than just marketing.

As the first step toward WD’s and NEC Electronics’ goal to promote the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 standard, the companies plan to develop a USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP) driver to deliver hard drives with very high performance, mass-storage capacity. In case you're wondering, UASP is a new industry-standard, high-performance mass-storage protocol being developed for SuperSpeed USB 3.0 to overcome the performance boundaries of the Bulk Only Transfer (BOT) protocol, which has been used for traditional USB 2.0 speeds. The new UASP driver will be used with NEC Electronics’ USB 3.0 xHCI (eXtensible Host Controller Interface) host controller (part number µPD720200), which appeared on the market as the world’s first USB 3.0 host controller in June 2009. Listed below are a few of the highlights of UASP, which will obviously prove vital in the move to address more and more data at higher speeds.

Key features of the new UASP driver

(1) Support for the UASP mass-storage protocol

(2) Data transfer rate is enhanced by 30 percent, with optimized power efficiency and smooth interoperability, compared to the existing BOT protocol

(3) NEC Electronics’ license program is available for any LSI (large scale integration) vendors who develop UASP-based LSI devices

“The wide adoption of external storage, for both expanding and backing up internal computer storage, highlights the need for faster interface transfer rates. The USB 3.0 interface offers a significant advance in data transfer speed,” said Robert Caddy, Jr., vice president of engineering for WD’s Branded Products Group. “We are pleased to collaborate with NEC Electronics as a leading supplier of USB host devices in the introduction of USB 3.0 technology to the storage market.”

“Partnering with WD enables us to combine our USB transfer technology with WD’s data storage technology and provide added value to our customers,” said Masao Hirasawa, deputy general manager, Home Multimedia Division, NEC Electronics Corporation. “Starting with the new HDDs, WD and NEC Electronics are working together as the industrial leaders to expand USB 3.0 marketplace offerings with the highest quality and performance solutions while speeding time to market.”