Plugable UD-3000 Firmware Upgrade (for Windows 8)

Update 12/24/2012 – All Plugable UD-3000 Universal Laptop Docking Stations purchased from Amazon after Dec 24, 2012 already have the update mentioned in this article. If you purchased after that date, please skip this article. Email support@plugable.com anytime if you’re having trouble with any Plugable product. Thanks!

A nice thing about the Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 Universal Docking Station is all the internal firmware is upgradable, so you can keep the unit up to date as USB 3.0 and other support evolves.

Background

That’s critical for things like Windows 8, which has tighter requirements and assumes having the latest firmware and drivers up and down the USB 3.0 stack of hardware and software for best results. If possible, you’ll want to upgrade several components to make sure you have the latest: motherboard BIOS, USB host controller firmware, chipset drivers, xhci host controller and root hub drivers, and device firmware, and device drivers for all your USB 3.0 devices.

Here we’re talking about one part of that: updating the Plugable UD-3000 firmware.

The two main chips in the UD-3000 dock are from DisplayLink (graphics, audio, and network) and VIA (USB 3.0 hub). The DisplayLink part is the only one that needs a 3rd party software driver to be installed, and the DisplayLink firmware is nice in that it gets upgraded automatically when you install a new DisplayLink Windows driver version. So we don’t need to worry about that.

The USB 3.0 hub firmware is upgraded separately, however — and it’s a requirement for Windows 8, or else Windows 8 can end up in an error state (code 43 on the xhci root hub) where all USB 3.0 ports are disabled until reboot (USB 2.0 ports are fine). Here’s what you need to upgrade the UD-3000 to firmware version 9.82 or higher for better Windows 8 compatibility.

Requirements

To update the firmware, the UD-3000 needs to be connected to a working USB 3.0 port of a Windows machine.

This gets difficult if you’re running Windows 8 and are having the problem above (if the UD-3000 isn’t being seen by Windows). The firmware update utility won’t even be able to talk to the device.

The best workaround is to get a Windows 7, Vista, or XP machine with USB 3.0 support – you’ll be able to flash the firmware with that, enabling it to work with windows 8.

Another workaround if you have an Intel USB 3.0 host controller is to replace the Microsoft-provided Windows 8 USB stack with Intel’s, which solves the issues. You can then flash the UD-3000 firmware and go back to the Microsoft stack if you like.

If these options won’t work for you, just email your Amazon order number to support@plugable.com and we’ll find another option to get you up and running.

Checking your current version

All UD-3000 units purchased on Amazon.com after Dec 19, 2012 will have this update already applied. If you purchased at an earlier time or are unsure, you can easily check its firmware version.

Start by downloading the Plugable UD-3000 firmware utility here:

http://plugable.s3.amazonaws.com/bin/UD-3000/Plugable_UD_3000_VL811_FW0983_20121213.exe

Open and run the installer. Note this utility is for updating VIA hubs in general, but the firmware bundled in the download link above is specific to the UD-3000.

The firmware utility must be installed first. You can take the defaults on all the pages of the install wizard. Once installed, the firmware utility should run automatically. To run it manually, you can find it in your programs as the “USB 3 Hub Firmware Upgrade Tool” (usb3hubfwupgrade.exe).

The tool will warn that you need to have the hub (the UD-3000) plugged into a USB 3.0 port (won’t work on USB 2.0). Note that if Windows sees the hub on Windows 8, the update can be done there too. Make sure you remove any other VIA USB 3.0 hubs, other than the UD-3000 itself.

Once started, you should see your device found. If not, make sure power to the UD-3000 is on (blue LED on front is on) and that you’re on a USB 3.0 port. Click “Scan Devices” after any change to look again for the UD-3000. If you still don’t see it, there may be a USB 3.0 problem — email us at support@plugable.com.

The firmware version shown above (V9.22) is an example of one that should be updated for Windows 8 compatibility. If you’re already on version V9.82 or above (the version in our update), skip the steps below and if you’re still having any problems, just email support@plugable.com and we’ll figure it out.

Updating the firmware

Click the “Start Upgrade” and you’ll quickly get the upgrade message

Remove the power plug to the UD-3000, then plug back in and “Scan Devices”. You should now see that the firmware version has been updated.

That’s it! The Plugable UD-3000 is now on the latest firmware and can have a much happier coexistence with Windows 8.

If any problems come up during or after this process, we’ll get you through it. Just email your Amazon order # to support@plugable.com .

We’d also love to hear about your experiences (good and bad), as they help us improve these steps. Please comment below. Thank you!