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I've read that the X79 chipset does not have native USB 3.0 support. However, I'm not entirely clear on what this means for performance, given that there are many X79 motherboards with USB 3.0 ports. How is the data rate impacted by this, if at all? Are there any other effects?

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Not having a certain port won't affect you, unless you try to use a USB 3.0 device. There really aren't a whole ton of things using it yet though. –  Simon Sheehan Feb 16 '12 at 3:48

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It would move the USB 3 controller out of the southbridge chip - which houses a whole bunch of different I/O devices - and onto something attached to another expansion bus. That would probably be the PCI express bus, these days, but theoretically could be something thinner.

Since the PCI express bus has more than enough bandwidth to support USB 3 speeds, odds are you wouldn't notice a lick of difference - but, it does mean that it would compete with anything else on the same bus, so if you start to push into the realm of bus bandwidth limits (between 250MB/s and 2GB/s) you might start to notice the difference.

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Ah, so the motherboard will just have an "extra" USB 3.0 controller on it? Makes sense. Thanks! –  Matthew Read Feb 16 '12 at 3:50
    
Yeah, more or less that. The south bridge chip is a bunch of controllers wired up to a nice, wide connection through to the CPU, and hangs a bunch of other stuff off it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southbridge_(computing) –  Daniel Pittman Feb 16 '12 at 3:54

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