Until not long ago, the only means that motherboard makers had of implementing USB 3.0 support on their platforms was buying a controller chip from NEC. This monopoly was not bound to last long, however. In fact, AMD plans on soon launching its own USB 3.0 controller, as does VIA Technologies. When it comes to solutions that are already (or almost) available, however, the one most likely to become NEC's contender is ASMedia, a subsidiary of ASUS.
By now, consumers probably are very well aware of the fact that the USB 3.0 standard enables data-transfer rates ten times faster than what is achievable via USB 2.0. Unfortunately, since Intel and AMD chipsets don't have native support for the interface, and will continue to lack support until next year, the standard's adoption has been quite slow. Now that there will finally be some competition on the USB 3.0 controller market, however, lower prices may finally make the technology more widely accessible.
While VIA's USB 3.0 chip won't start being mass-produced until the fourth quarter, ASMedia's own solution will become available by the end of June. Also, according to a report published by Digitimes, the chips have already been deemed suitable by ASUS itself, which has already shifted USB 3.0 controller orders from NEC to ASMedia. This action, in turn, is expected to prompt MSI (Micro-Star International), Gigabyte technology and Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) to eventually transfer their own orders as well.