USB 3.0 & the Corsair Voyager GTR: A Match Made in Heaven?

by Michael "SKYMTL" Hoenig     |     June 13, 2010

A Quick Look at the ASUS U3S6 Add-In Card

Released a few months ago, the ASUS U3S6 gives people who have motherboards with included USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 (its time to stop calling it SATA 6) connectors access to these latest high speed interfaces. Through the use of a PLX bridge chip that allows the on-board NEC and Marvell controllers to do their job over an x4 PCI-E intererface, ASUS claims full speed access without the need of upgrading numerous components. This gives the U3S6 a theoretical bandwidth of 4GB/s which is more than enough for the maximum 600MB/s throughput of a SATA 3.0 device.

The card itself is an interesting affair without any garish heatsinks since all of the on-board chips run quite cool. In order to have USB 3.0 compatibility the U3S6 runs an NEC D720200F controller chip while SATA 3.0 compatibility comes from a Marvell SE9123 chip. Along with the PLX chip which provides communication with the host motherboard, this is the exact same combination that ASUS uses on most of their USB 3.0 / SATA 3 products. This add-in board could also sub in as a means to add additional USB headers as the USB 3.0 connectors are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 devices.

The back end of the card has a pair of SATA 3.0 connectors at a right angle from one another but no external power connector is needed. This is because the PCI-E x4 slot can provide enough power for the controller chips in addition to the two USB 3.0 headers while power for any attached SATA 3 devices would come directly from the power supply to the devices themselves.

To be perfectly honest with you, for the foreseeable future the 4GB/s of bandwidth would actually allow the two SATA 3.0 and two USB 3.0 headers on this card to be all populated and working at the same time without affecting overall performance of the devices. However, USB 3.0 has a maximum theoretical throughput of 4.8Gbps but we highly doubt we will see any devices reach that level in the forseeable future if ever.

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