NEC Electronics to Release 'World's 1st' USB 3.0 Host Controller LSI

May 19, 2009
Tadashi Nezu, Nikkei Electronics
The reference design of host-side that NEC Electronics revealed. It is designed for use in notebook PCs. The large black chip is the "μPD720200F1."
The reference design of host-side that NEC Electronics revealed. It is designed for use in notebook PCs. The large black chip is the "μPD720200F1."
[Click to enlarge image]

NEC Electronics Corp will release the "μPD720200," a host controller LSI that supports USB 3.0.

"We will be the first to release a USB 3.0 host controller in the world," said Shigeo Niitsu, associate vice president of the 2nd SoC Operations Unit.

NEC Electronics is planning to start sample shipments in early June 2009 and volume production at one million units per month in September 2009. The price of a sample is ¥1,500 (approx US$15.6). It is expecting the SoC to be used in PCs first.

"We have already entered specific discussions with PC manufacturers all over the world," Niitsu said. "The SoC will be in PCs from an early stage."

The company forecast that a PC equipped with USB 3.0 ports will emerge by the end of 2009 at the earliest.

The μPD720200 has two USB 3.0 ports, both of which support 5Gbps transmission, the highest data transmission speed of USB 3.0. Its power consumption is "less than 1W in operation," Niitsu said. The SoC is a 10 x 10mm 176-pin FBGA package.

NEC Electronics is expecting USB 3.0 to start to be featured in PCs in 2009 and to spread in earnest in and after 2010. USB 3.0-compatible PCs will account for about 30% of PCs in 2011 and 80% of PCs in 2012, the company forecast. The number of PCs that support USB 3.0 will reach approximately 140 million units in 2011 and 340 million units in 2012, it said.

Also, the company believes that USB 3.0 host controllers will be available in chipsets as well as standalone host controllers in 2011.

Excluding those to be mounted on chipsets, "We will be able to acquire almost 100% share" in the standalone host controller LSI market, Niitsu said. According to the company's estimates, PCs equipped with a USB 3.0 host controller LSI will reach 26 million units in 2010, 60 million units in 2011 and 90 million units in 2012.

Moreover, as a USB 3.0-related business, NEC Electronics is planning to set out an ASIC business for "device side" USB controllers such as USB-SATA bridge LSIs with fabless manufacturers. NEC Electronics will, for example, manufacture physical layer circuits and chips in the business, it said.

The company is planning μPD720200-related exhibitions and demonstrations at the SuperSpeed USB Developers Conference, which will take place in Tokyo May 20 and 21, 2009.