Renesas experiencing USB 3.0 host controller shortage

Too many re-worked Sandy Bridge boards

Being the only company with a product in the market with high demand can sometimes be a serious problem and for Renesas (RNECF) things are starting to look bad, as the company is low on supply of its uPD720200 USB 3.0 host controllers and is expecting to run out sometime in May. That said, this shouldn’t be a huge issue as the uPD720200 is pin-to-pin compatible with the uPD720200A which is a low power version of the uPD720200 and Renesas is aid to have plenty of supply of the latter.

First of all it’s important to be clear that the host controller shortage is not due to the earthquake or tsunami that hit Japan. Instead it’s simply a matter of supply and demand where the demand is exceeding the supply at the moment, as most motherboard manufacturers are ramping up production of their Sandy Bridge boards after Intel’s chipset replacement. This resulted in much higher demand than Renesas expected and the company cannot make enough chips according to Digitimes.

We’re not certain why Renesas claims that it takes a month to verify the uPD720200A on the same boards that use the uPD720200 host controller, as the two are virtually the same with the exception of the power draw in standby mode which is lower for the uPD720200A. What we found a bit perplexing is that Renesas is expecting to have its new USB host controllers, the µPD720201 and µPD720202 certified by the USB-IF by July, something that Renesas couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t be able to know ahead of time.

The µPD720201 and µPD720202 host controllers should start shipping in September, although we were intrigued by the pricing quoted in the Digitimes story. Renesas itself quoted $20 and $10 respectively for the four and two ports host controllers, whereas Digitimes is quoting a source saying that the four port chip will cost around $3 with the two port chip being less than $2. Even for something in mass production this seems surprisingly cheap compared to the sample prices, least not compared to the selling price for its current products. In saying that, moving from FPBGA to QFN should help lower the chip packaging costs, but still not to that extent.S|A

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