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OS X 10.8.2 improves USB 3.0 and adds support for some 3rd party controllers

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usb_30.pngAs you know, we've all been digging around Apple's latest update to OS X and we've found one interesting tidbit so far that wasn't mentioned in the official release notes. Apple has added support for some third party USB 3.0 host controllers. We'd heard some suggestions about this a little while back, but lo and behold, Apple did tweak the USB 3.0 drivers in 10.8.2 and even improved the native support for the Intel ports on the 7-series chipsets.

What we discovered was that the Fresco Logic FL1100 and FL1009 USB 3.0 host controller works natively in OS X 10.8.2, although we've had no luck with the original NEC controller, ASMedia or Etron so far, controllers that have been coaxed into working using patched third party drivers.

The FL1100 is a four port USB 3.0 host controller with support for UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) and it's xHCI 1.0 compliant, with the FL1009 being its two port equivalent. The NEC and ASMedia controllers don't support xHCI 1.0, but the Etron EJ168 controller used on many of Gigabyte's 6-series motherboards should be xHCI compliant. This rules out xHCI 1.0 compliance as a potential driver limitation, so clearly Apple must've willingly added support for Fresco Logic's controllers. The good news here is that the two port FL1009 found on some Gigabyte models, like its X79 boards and the H61N-USB3 also works natively in OS X 10.8.2.
Screen Shot 2012-01-02 at 12.05.20 PM.png
Now for the bad news. The performance is far below that which we've seen from every other USB 3.0 host controller in OS X so far and at least on the board we used to test the controller on, it would only work in one of the PCI Express x1 slots, as although it was seen by the OS in the secondary x16 slot, no USB devices attached to it would show up. On the upside, USB 2.0 devices works just fine with the FL1100, unlike what we've seen from the Intel USB 3.0 ports so far.

As far as 7-series chipset is concerned and the native Intel ports, Apple has made some improvements here too. The USB 3.0 ports can now be used with USB 3.0 accessories like mice and keyboard, although we had no luck getting any USB 2.0 storage devices working with the USB 3.0 ports. This should be good news, especially for those with the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH boards, as the two rear USB 3.0 ports can now be used with mice and keyboards during the OS install without having to change any settings in the UEFI.

Feel free to add your own experiences with USB 3.0 functionality in OS X 10.8.2 in the comments below, as we'd love to know of any other USB 3.0 host controllers that work natively with Apple's latest update.
 

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Thanks for putting in the line about the GA-Z77X-UP4 TH! It was getting too hard to decipher the writing and trying to determine if this news was applicable to my motherboard. I appreciate it!
 
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ASRock H77ITX,

Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse worked fine on usb3 in 8.1.0 & 8.1.1, Now are real laggy in 8.1.2. Keyboard only sees 1 in 3 key presses. mouse jumps all over. works fine on usb2 ports. I have honestly not tested anything else yet.
 
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Generally speaking, Apple seemed to be covered fairly well with respect to USB 3.0 on Ivy Bridge based hardware. Adding third party controller support doesn't really make much sense unless they were trying to add comparable support on an upcoming platform that would have no native USB 3.0 support such as the X79 / C606,……

Having said that maybe Apple can get Intel to drop the Intel video subsystem requirement for Thunderbolt certification,….. ;)
 
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