USB 3.0 Speed Tests: 7-Way Host Controllers Roundup
We also found out some interesting information about UASP; just because your host controller might support it doesn't mean that your USB 3.0 peripherals will. The reason for this is that only two companies are making UASP drivers at the moment and if the peripheral makers want to offer UASP support, they have to pay a license fee. This should be solved in Windows 8 which is said to have native USB 3.0 and UASP support, but it's really disappointing that what should be a simple to use standard is anything but. We can't imagine consumers going out there asking around for UASP compatible storage devices, nor is it likely that consumers will know if there are UASP drivers for their host controller or not.
We also ran into a fair few issues during this review, more so than we expected and it seems like the USB 3.0 "standard" really isn't much of a standard. Compatibility between the various host controllers and bridge solutions used to connect SATA drives to the USB 3.0 bus aren't at a level where you can just buy anything, plug it in and get the best possible performance. We ran into some serious performance problems in a couple of circumstances and although some of these were solved by the companies during the test, others were not. It shows that USB 3.0 is far from mature and it's possible that we'll end up with similar issues in the future when new products arrive.
Another entirely unexpected problem we encountered was cable quality, or the lack there of. It turns out that not all USB 3.0 cables are equal, as one micro USB 3.0 cable that we purchased with the intent of using for this test would cause disconnect issues no matter what and when it worked, most of the time it would only connect at USB 2.0 speeds with Windows popping up a message stating that the device would operate faster if plugged into a USB 3.0 port. This is another issue consumers shouldn't have to be faced with and although admittedly this was a cable from a no-name brand, we found it hard to locate a quality micro USB 3.0 cable and we had to visit several shops to find an alternative.
Another thing worth keeping in mind is that until Windows 8 arrives it's often not possible to mix and match USB 3.0 host controllers from different manufacturers in the same system. The reason behind this is that the drivers function in different ways and they might interfere with each other and cause performance issues. One last and final point we'd like to make before we get to the host controllers is that make sure that you've installed the latest drivers and firmware, as this can have a huge impact on not only performance, but also compatibility and reliability.