The USB 3.0 Promoter Group today announced that the development of the next generation of USB connector has begun. The new USB Type-C connector, built initially on existing USB 3.1 and USB 2.0 technologies, is being developed to help enable thinner and sleeker product designs, enhance usability and provide a growth path for performance enhancements for future versions of USB. This supplement to the USB 3.1 specification is anticipated to be completed by the middle of next year.

Key characteristics of the USB Type-C connector and cable solution include:

  • An entirely new design tailored to work well with emerging product designs
  • New smaller size – similar in size to the existing USB 2.0 Micro-B
  • Usability enhancements – users will no longer need to be concerned with plug orientation/cable direction, making it easier to plug in
  • The Type-C connector and cable will support scalable power charging
  • Scalability – the connector design will scale for future USB bus performance

As the new USB Type-C plug and receptacle will not directly mate with existing USB plugs and receptacles (Type-A, Type-B, Micro-B, etc.), the Type-C specification will define passive new-to-existing cables and adapters to allow users to use their existing products.

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ASUS today announced Xonar U7 Echelon Edition, a compact 7.1-channel USB sound card that retains the high audio quality of the award-winning Xonar U7 and adds the military-inspired digital camouflage pattern that is unique to the Echelon range.

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As well as stylish looks, ASUS engineers have also worked hard to add an impressive range of exclusive features designed to help gamers, including Sonic Radar for in-game sound visualization and Sonic Studio Pro for fine control of every audio feature.

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ASUS today announced Xonar D-KARAX, a professional-grade sound card designed for singing enthusiasts that like to sing and share their songs online.

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Designed by leading music-industry engineers, Xonar D-KARAX helps eager amateur singers shape their voice and indulge in the latest trend of sharing personal songs online. Xonar D-KARAX is a PCI-Express sound card offers 96KHz/24-bit playback, real-time audio processing, 7.1 audio and a 106dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). Singers can apply and hear audio effects in real-time with no playback lag, a sophisticated feature previously the preserve of professional recording studios.

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Addonics Technologies today announced a network device for the wireless sharing of a USB drive or micro SD card or for using as a wireless hot spot for connecting wireless devices to the internet.

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The WiFi Drive Adapter is ideal for numerous applications, including wireless file sharing on USB drives or micro SD cards, streaming music or video to a tablet, smart phone, MP3 player or notebook PC. Set up is fast and easy. Simply attach a USB drive or insert a micro SD card into the WiFi Drive Adapter. The data on the USB drive or the micro SD card becomes readily accessible wirelessly.

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ASUS today announced Essence III, a USB digital-to-analog (DAC) converter with a fully balanced design and the latest Direct Stream Digital (DSD) playback designed for those who demand the purest audio quality and listening flexibility.

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High-precision clocks and asynchronous USB virtually eliminate jitter, while separate printed-circuit boards for digital, analog and power ensure that the Essence III’s audio delivery is crystal-clear and free of crosstalk. Remote-controlled volume driven by stepped attenuators allow output levels to be set with great precision – even from the far side of the listening room.

“Essence III is more than the flagship product of our audio range,” said Ives Chiu, product manager of ASUS Multimedia Business Department, “it is a representation of how dedicated and how serious we are in the pursuit of high-quality audio. We have crafted Essence III to be just as satisfying to use as it is to hear”

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Sonnet today introduced the Tango 3.0 PCIe, a combination USB 3.0 and FireWire 800 PCIe adapter card. The Tango card provides users with a simple way to add USB 3.0 and FireWire 800 connectivity to Mac Pro and Windows computers with PCIe slots, and to Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express expansion chassis. This Sonnet adapter can run bus-powered devices such as hard drives through each of its ports, and it is also backward-compatible with USB 2.0 and FireWire 400 devices.

USB 3.0, which offers a tenfold increase in data transfer speeds over USB 2.0, has become a standard interface on Mac systems and most Windows PCs, as well as external storage devices. The iconic, but now discontinued, Mac Pro tower never included native USB 3.0 ports, and many perfectly functional PCs were built with only USB 2.0 ports. Therefore, users wanting to take advantage of the new fast interface have to rely on third-party expansion cards. The Sonnet adapter provides four USB 3.0 ports: two external USB 3.0 ports and a 20-pin header for two internal USB 3.0 ports. The internal ports support panel-mount connector kits (sold separately).

FireWire 800 established its success as an interface for storage devices and professional audio equipment. Although included for years as a standard feature on most Mac computers, it has rarely been included in Windows PCs. The Tango 3.0 PCIe provides Windows PC and Mac Pro users alike a simple way to add three FireWire 800 ports to any compatible computer with an open PCIe slot.

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Renesas Electronics Corporation, a premier provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced a new Universal Serial Bus 3.0 (USB 3.0) hub controller (part number μPD720211) with dual downstream ports, extending more flexibility to implement USB 3.0 connections of digital devices such as PCs, tablets, and digital TVs to other USB 3.0-compatible peripheral devices.

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Adding a new two-port hub controller to the lineup alongside Renesas’ world’s-first certified USB 3.0 four-port hub controller (part number μPD720210) increases system designers’ options for USB 3.0 hub expansion with products such as PCs, tablets, display monitors, docking stations (function expansion units that connect to notebook PCs), and digital TVs. The addition of the two-port hub controller (uPD720211) supports designs with tighter space and cost budgets, while expanding the USB 3.0 connectivity to utilize the increasing number and performance of USB 3.0 peripherals devices available in the market.

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Creative Technology Ltd today announced an all new high performance external sound card – the Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1.

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On top of enhancing audio playback via Creative's SBX Pro Studio™ suite of processing technologies, the Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 goes a step further to provide a more complete playback experience. The sound card comes with a 600 ohm headphone amplifier that allows discerning listeners to hear every enhanced audio detail through powerful studio-grade monitoring headphones.

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Diamond Multimedia has introduced the newest addition to their sound card collection, the Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 PCI-e Low Profile 24 Bit Record and Playback Internal Sound Card, model name: XS71HD. The high performance HD sound card improve Your Sound Experience for Gaming, Movies, Music and more in true 7.1 channel surround sound.

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The Xtreme Sound 7.1 HD sound card provides theater quality sound, all in true 7.1 channel surround sound and support for 24bit 192KHz/96KHz/48KHz/44.1KHz playback and 24bit 192KHz/96KHz/48KHz/44.1KHz recording, anti-Pop protection circuitry, special effects including concert hall and more. The Xtreme Sound 7.1 HD sound card also includes a digital optical output, which provides a multichannel, pure digital, distortion-free signal that can be connected via a single optical digital cable, therefore eliminating multiple cable connections and guaranteeing high fidelity audio for your home theater experience.

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Serial ATA International Organization (SATA-IO), the industry consortium dedicated to sustaining the quality, integrity and dissemination of Serial ATA (SATA) technology, today announced the ratification of its revision 3.2 specification. The latest specification includes SATA Express, a new specification that enables the coexistence of SATA and PCIe storage devices, as well as enhancements in power management, new SATA form-factors, and optimizations for solid state hybrid drives (SSHDs).

"SATA technology continues to evolve to accommodate ever-changing storage industry requirements," said Mladen Luksic, SATA-IO President. "The updates featured in the revision 3.2 specification, such as SATA Express and enhancements for emerging solid state hybrid drives, are driven by current market trends. These new features demonstrate SATA-IO's ongoing commitment to providing low-cost, high-performance storage solutions."

Initially introduced in January 2013, the SATA Express specification enables a client storage ecosystem that allows SATA and PCIe solutions to coexist. A host implemented to this specification will connect to and function with either a SATA or PCIe storage device. PCIe technology enables increased interface speeds of up to 2GB/s (2 lanes of PCIe 3.0), compared with today's SATA technology at 0.6GB/s (6Gb/s). The increased speed of PCIe provides a cost-effective solution for optimizing performance of Solid State Drives (SSDs) and emerging SSHDs. Storage devices not requiring the increased speed of PCIe, such as traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) and optical drives, will continue to be supported by SATA.

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