Renesas/NEC was first to market with a controller for USB 3.0, and even though there were no units that supported the interface it managed to ship millions before the competition even got their solutions out. With competition here, Renesas/NEC is planning to lower prices of its controller circuits.
Something you may not consider when buying a motherboard is that the motherboard manufacturers often get circuits from other companies. One of these is the USB 3.0 controller that are still sold in millions since AMD with its A75 chipset is the only company that has integrated USB 3.0 support. The technology of A75 comes from Renesas, but we have no information on the details of this arrangement.
AMD A75 is the only chipset with integrated USB 3.0
Renesas has three competitors today, ASMedia a spin-off of ASUS, Etron and VIA Labs. ASUS and buy USB 3.0 circuits exclusively from ASMedia, while Gigabyte rely on Etron and Renesas. With harder competition USB 3.0 controllers are becoming a commodity where only the cheapest one is good enough.
Renesas has announced that in 2012 it will lower prices of its 2-port controller to under 1.2 dollar, from about 2 dollar. In comparison ASMedia’s cirucits cost 1.5 – 1.7 dollar depending on contract and quantity. Renesas was first to market, and then they cost as much as 9 dollar.
The psoitive for consumers is that USB 3.0 support is becoming a given and something that may not affect the store prices as much as it used to. We can expect even cheaper motherboards when both AMD and Intel have integrated support for all chipsets.