AK PCCU3 03 Akasa and Emt launches four port VLI USB 3.0 cards

So far the only product that we've been aware of that features VLI's four-port USB 3.0 host controller has been a mini-ITX motherboard from Zotac, but now add-on card manufacturers have started to release products based on the VL800 USB 3.0 host controller. The advantage here is that there's no need for multiple host controllers or a USB 3.0 hub to get more than two USB 3.0 ports and as such overall cost should be lower.

So far the only product that we've been aware of that features VLI's four-port USB 3.0 host controller has been a mini-ITX motherboard from Zotac, but now add-on card manufacturers have started to release products based on the VL800 USB 3.0 host controller. The advantage here is that there's no need for multiple host controllers or a USB 3.0 hub to get more than two USB 3.0 ports and as such overall cost should be lower.

We've seen some crazy implementations with four of Fresco Logic's FL1000 single port USB 3.0 host controllers and a PCI Express bridge chip from a Taiwanese add-on card maker which was the first four-port USB 3.0 card, but this is anything but an elegant solution to an easily solved problem. That said, the potential downside is that VLI's USB 3.0 host controllers has as yet to pass the USB-IF certification process, but then again neither has ASMedia or Etron and controllers from both companies can be found on a wide range of motherboards already on sale.

AK PCCU3 03 Akasa and Emt launches four port VLI USB 3.0 cards

VLI's implementation of the VL800 means that the four ports are sharing a single PCI Express 2.0 lane which in theory doesn't have enough bandwidth for four USB 3.0 devices at full speed. However, this is really a minor issue as of right now, unless you're using four individual SATA 6Gbps SSDs connected via a SATA 6Gbps to USB 3.0 bridge simultaneously and are copying huge amounts of data between them.

Akasa's card is known as the AK-PCCU3-03 and it has three ports on the back of the card and one that will be accessible internally. This means that if you have a case that has a front USB 3.0 port that uses a standard USB 3.0 type-A connector, then this will attach to the card without having to be run out the back of the case. A pretty neat solution, but the fourth port might also end up being unused if the case doesn't offer this kind of connectivity.

emt usb3 Akasa and Emt launches four port VLI USB 3.0 cards

Emt on the other hand has gone for a more traditional approach with four ports around the back and there's really not much more to say about this card. We haven't managed to find a model number for this card, nor is it listed on Emt's website, but the card is already retailing in Taiwan for NT$990 (S$43) which seems a little bit expensive, especially when the company has a two port card for close to half the price.

We're looking at doing some performance comparison tests in the future between the various USB 3.0 host controllers available in the market, but this is something that won't happen until after Computex.

Source: Akasa, Emt