USB 3 price set to plunge

USB 3 ports could soon become a ubiquitous sight on PC motherboards, as the price of controller chips is rumoured to be gearing up for a plunge.

The gossip comes courtesy of Taiwanese tech site DigiTimes, which claims to have spoken to anonymous sources in the industry. According to the site, NEC is planning to slash the price of its USB 3 controller chips in the fourth quarter of this year, in response to an increasing threat from Taiwanese competitors.

NEC has ruled the USB 3 waves for the last few months, with its uPD720200 chip proving very popular among motherboard makers. However, NEC's baby also has its limitations, not least the fact that it can only control two ports. As such, motherboard manufacturers such as Asus have had to fit two controller chips to their boards in order to enable front and back USB 3 ports.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese chip maker VIA has already unveiled its own USB 3 wares, with its VL800 chip controlling up to four USB 3 ports. According to DigiTimes, VIA joins ASMedia, Etron and Fresco Logic as the competitors to which NEC is responding.

The site also claims that NEC is making plans for its next-generation USB 3 controller chips already. According to the report, NEC's new chips will cost under $2 US to board makers, and will start appearing in the first quarter of 2011.