A leaked presentation (below) may have confirmed that Intel's Panther Point chipset will finally add native USB 3.0 support. The presentation refers to the platform supporting as many as four of the ports at full speed with ten more supplying USB 2.0. A dedicated controller, the XHCI, would handle just the 3.0 jacks and would give each of them the full 5Gbps of bandwidth, preventing one from slowing down the other.
OS requirements would also be stiff, the slide showed: Windows XP and Vista would be excluded entirely, limiting users to 7 or the upcoming 8 and their server equivalents. Linux would get open-source drivers. Apple isn't mentioned, but it typically refuses to be included in outside firms' compatibility lists when it hasn't made an announcement of its own.
No mention is made of Light Peak, although Intel has already said that Light Peak is ready to use early.
Panther Point will be the companion chipset to future Ivy Bridge processors and should get its debut in shipping products for 2012.
Native USB 3.0 support from Intel should be vital for the platform. USB 3.0 has been in use since last year, but the absence of official support has left companies using third-party controller hardware from NEC and others to provide the extra speed. Intel's decision to omit support until Panther Point may have kept some companies from relying on USB 3.0 altogether and others from providing as many ports as they would like.