asmedia redriver demo VR Zone talks with ASMedia at Computex

During Computex we took the opportunity to talk to ASMedia, a local Taiwanese company that is known for its USB 3.0 host controllers, but makes so much more. So don’t be afraid, click on through for a visit to the world of USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps and much more.

During Computex we took the opportunity to talk to ASMedia, a local Taiwanese company that is known for its USB 3.0 host controllers, but makes so much more. So don’t be afraid, click on through for a visit to the world of USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps and much more.

We had a really good chat with ASMedia and the company is currently working on a wide range of new products, although we only got a glimpse of some of them. So where to start? Well, for one ASMedia isn’t looking at doing a four port USB 3.0 host controller at this point in time, mostly because ASMedia feels it’s not worth the time it takes to have the product certified by the USB-IF.

ASMedia was told to expect it to take about a year to get certification and by then there will be chipset level support for USB 3.0 from both AMD and Intel. Another reason for holding off on a four port solution is performance, as so far all of the four port implementations from the four companies that have such a solution or are working on one, use a single PCI Express lane which means that the four ports are sharing the same bandwidth that two ports would do on a two port controller.

asmedia partner products VR Zone talks with ASMedia at Computex

Spot the missing company

As there’s no standard for a two lane PCI Express implementation, the next step up would be four lanes worth of bandwidth, but with Intel’s consumer level chipsets offering a maximum total of eight lanes from the PCH (with some chipsets offering fewer lanes), there just isn’t a market for such a solution. ASMedia is offering a single port version of the ASM1042 though, called the ASM1041.

What the company will offer though is a four port USB 3.0 hub called the ASM1074, although it’s currently only available in a prototype and we weren’t allowed to take pictures of the prototype board, but let’s just say that it’s the size of a mATX motherboard. This is not exactly unusual for a prototyping board and once ASMedia has worked out all the bugs and so forth, it will be taped out and put into production.

asm 1074 1031 VR Zone talks with ASMedia at Computex

Another upcoming product is the ASM1031 which is a USB 3.0 Flash controller for USB pen drives and although it’s unlikely to be breaking any speed records, it’s on par with most solutions out there in the market, except it will be a single chip solution. On top of that it should run cooler than current USB 3.0 Flash controllers and be more affordable. The top results in the picture above are using 2Xnm Flash while the results below are based on 34nm Flash.

The reason for the lower write performance is according to ASMedia a side effect of the manufacturing process of the NAND Flash, as with a smaller area to store the electrons in, it takes longer for the electrons to reach a stable state. This in turn results in slower write performance and the only way to alleviate this problem is to add more channels of Flash which leads to more expensive devices.

asmedia redriver demo VR Zone talks with ASMedia at Computex

Next up we have a rather peculiar product that most of us would never even know that it was fitted, the ASM1465 redriver. A redriver is a type of signal booster that keeps the signal integrity of the USB 3.0 signal over longer cable runs and would normally be found in things like USB booster cables for long cable runs. However, ASMedia is targeting the ASM1465 to motherboard makers, as with integrated USB 3.0 host controllers there might be a signal integrity issue on the motherboard itself if the USB 3.0 ports or headers have long board traces. This would potentially mean that you’re cutting the usable cable length outside of chassis by a fair bit and a redriver would solve this issue neatly.