The USB 3.0 interface has a theoretical maximum throughput of 5 Gbps, but no products exist that actually reach that speed, because no controller chips can attain the transfer rate, although the new Silicon Motion IC comes closer than most others.
Silicon Motion has launched the SM3267 USB 3.0 controller chip, which can send data to and from NAND Flash chips at up to 160 MB/s.
Usually, flash drive makers don't bother saying exactly how fast their products are, and tests usually show a rise over USB 2.0 by a factor of 2 or 3.
The high-end products sometimes do have their performance mentioned, but the best ones of recent days manage only around 100 MB/s.
Silicon Motion's new integrated circuit is 30% to 50% faster than most other single-channel USB 3.0 flash drive controllers.
That means that it will probably be adopted by lots of storage device makers, which, consequently, means that we can expect a batch of faster USB drives and SSDs for the Christmas holidays.
It helps that the high speed isn't the only asset that Silicon Motion has to show for itself. Overall costs should be cut as well, thanks to integrating the embedded crystal oscillator and all power ICs. A 5V to 3.3V LDO and a 5V to 1.2V DC-DC are both part of the processor.
Thus, BOM cost can be reduced by 15-20%, since flash drive makers don't have to install the crystal oscillator and power ICs separately.
“We are pleased to announce that SM3267 has received design-ins from most of our current USB controller customers, including many top-tier OEMs, and we expect SM3267-based USB 3.0 flash drives will be commercially available starting in the fourth quarter of 2013,” said Wallace Kou, president and CEO of Silicon Motion.
Silicon Motion's new USB 3.0 controller has passed USB-IF compliance testing and WHCK (Windows Hardware Certification Kit) tests for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Samsung, Toshiba, SanDisk, SK Hynix, Micron and Intel should all start using it soon.