PLX Technology today announced a pair of direct attached storage (DAS) SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.0)-to-SATA controllers — devices that are essential elements of wired external consumer storage drives. Optimized for bus-powered applications, the new PLX OXU3110 and OXU3111 (with encryption) DAS controllers are ideal for OEM storage designers seeking product differentiation matched with superior performance, a tiny footprint, and very low power. The devices are fully compliant with the USB-IF SuperSpeed specification and published on the forum’s exclusive integrators list.


“PLX predicts that USB 3.0 will account for more than 60 percent of total USB hard drives in 2011, then growing to more than 80 percent in 2012,” said David Raun, PLX vice president of marketing and business development. “This rapid growth can be attributed to USB 3.0 drives delivering up to 140 megabytes per second performance, compared to roughly 30 megabytes a second from USB 2.0 drives, meaning a one-terabyte drive swiftly being copied in one-quarter the time. With continually growing libraries of large data files such as video, digital photos, and music, consumers will find this newfound performance very appealing.”

“With network-attached storage use growing in the home and small office environments, and the popularity of cloud storage serviced by remote data centers, DAS may be overlooked in the storage landscape,” said Tom Coughlin founder and president of Coughlin Associates, a data-storage research company. “However, DAS is in daily use for business and consumer applications. Enabled by a new generation of USB-to-SATA controllers such as those PLX is bringing to market, DAS will continue to be a dependable, efficient storage solution serving everyday uses and leading to continued growth in direct-attached storage products.”

Industry-leading features of the OXU3110 DAS controller include the fastest read throughput at 265MB/s, a small 6mm x 6mm QFN package, and that it requires only 479mW typical power. The highly integrated device requires a minimum number of external components (only a single external crystal is needed). Embedded in the OXU3110 are a USB 3.0/2.0 PHY and device controller, SATA II PHY, internal voltage regulator, and masked program ROM supporting non-differentiated applications. The OXU3111 (521mW typical power) offers all the features of the OXU3110 and adds an integrated cipher engine, which provides advanced encryption and decryption capabilities in the hardware, enabling designers to rapidly deploy full disk encryption solutions.

The embedded USB 3.0 PHY in the OXU311x devices supports SuperSpeed, High Speed and Full Speed USB modes, using either bulk-only transport Mass Storage Class device protocol or the new USB Attached SCSI Protocol (UASP). The OXU311x’s fast read and write transfers ensure that the maximum-possible host performance is maintained. The embedded 3GHz SATA host interfaces support the latest revisions of the SATA II specification. Interface speeds of 3GHz and 1.5GHz deliver optimal performance with minimum latency for external SATA storage.

All PLX DAS controllers are supported by a comprehensive support package that includes evaluation boards, reference designs, software development kit (SDK) and PLX’s exclusive ISIS-branded toolkit. The ISIS toolkit provides designers a self-contained virtual help desk with easy access to device and firmware configurations, thus simplifying encryption settings, RAID configuration, power settings, and HDD monitoring. Additionally, the ISIS toolkit includes an end-user tool named Gateway for simple administration of passwords in secure systems, as well as a single-click “in-field” firmware update utility.

Pricing and Availability
Pricing for the new OXU3110 and OXU3111 (with encryption) ranges from $1.50 to $2.00 in large volumes. Development kits are sampling today and silicon will be in full production in June 2011.