The USB IP segment was the largest of all the Interface IP segments: HDMI, PCI Express, SATA and DDRn in 2008, with $55M to $60M, out of a total of $250M for the overall Interface IP market. USB 2.0 is a standard interface between devices and personal computers (host) and connects my mouse, iPod, camera, smartphone, etc…

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Unfortunately, USB 2.0 running at 480 Mbps has poor performances compared with the other high speed serial links running in the 2 to 5 Gbps range. The release of USB 3.0 however is a real game changer with a nominal speed defined at 5 Gbps (same as PCIe gen-2), and the protocol is now packet based (allowing more efficient transaction) and dual simplex (this allows to transmit and receive at the same time). I touched the first certified USB 3.0 consumer products demonstrated at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
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SuperSpeed USB 3.0 will absolutely generate a strong interest from consumers, the question is how quick will it be adopted in the different semiconductor segments and be effectively used by the mainstream consumer electronic products? One of my LinkedIn connections Eric Esteve runs the IP-Nest website and has released a report analyzing the different market segments and applications which could get an immediate benefit from the SuperSpeed bandwidth. The report is a real “Design-In Guide” for both IP vendors and semiconductor companies involved in the USB IP market.

According to Eric, the sales of USB 3.0 IP is the best adoption rate indicator, which, by definition, occurs between six to twelve months before the system is sold on the final market, whether it is consumer or enterprise. Moreover, the number of IP sales is directly linked with the market penetration by the protocol: for an interconnect protocol, the key factor is the interoperability, so the success is to have the largest possible number of applications adopting it. The best approach to forecast the USB 3.0 IP sales is based on a bottom-up approach reviewing all the potential applications, and the timeframe for adoption.
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Using the “Diffusion of Innovation” theory, you can build a forecast for the USB 3.0 IP market in 2009-2010. This business is made by the IP sales to the OEM and ASSP vendors who target the “Early Adopter” customers. Because the USB technology is already familiar to the end user, you can expect this IP market to ramp up very fast. Even if the technology is already available and demonstrated in applications like external storage, what is missing today is the availability of PC or Notebook with native SuperSpeed USB support, or USB 3.0 included in the PC chipset. So, as of today and during 2010, the USB 3.0 technology will be used by few customers who will have to either buy an external bridging device or buy a PC with SuperSpeed USB added on the motherboard. This is the key limiting factor for the wide USB 3.0 adoption, and the subsequent IP sales.

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Nevertheless, the take off in USB 3.0 IP sales will occur when the PC chipset manufacturers will launch product with native USB 3.0 support. The USB 3.0 IP market would then rely on IP sales in each market segment: PC peripherals, Wireless Communications (smartphones and Smartbooks), CE (Digital still Camera, Digital Camcorders, Set Top Boxes, DVD and Blue-Ray players and recorders, etc…).

The full report is available from the IPnest website: USB 3.0 IP Survey: 2010-2015 Forecast
This report has been sold to major IP vendor (Synopsys, Inventure) and OEM (SONY)

"Dr. Eric Esteve provides an insightful analysis of the USB 3.0 market. This report is useful to anyone interested in understanding which applications and products can benefit from the new higher performance USB 3.0 standard." Ed Bard, Senior Director of Product Marketing - Synopsys IP

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