Category Archives: USB3-HUB81X4

Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades

4.26.13 Updated with new versions

Note this post is only about hubs. For our own UD-3000 dock, please don’t follow this post — we have a separate post on the customized UD-3000 firmware upgrade.

USB 3.0 is rapidly evolving with new hardware and software that create new compatibility considerations, and Plugable is committed to staying on the cutting edge.

Skip background and jump to firmware update steps

This update utility is Windows-only and requires a USB 3.0 capable PC. If your PC has USB 2.0 rather than USB 3.0 ports, or if you use a Mac, you will not be able to complete this upgrade, and should instead contact support@plugable.com. For Mac customers wishing to update, a Windows installation in BootCamp can complete this update, however virtual machines like Parallels, VMWare, or VirtualBox are NOT able to complete this update.

Plugable products for which the updates in this post are relevant are listed in the table below. Since the updates vary with chipset, to update your hub, you must first determine it’s chipset. You may check the table below for expected chipset based on shipping date, however checking in device manager or system profiler for the device’s vendor and product ID’s is the more accurate and recommended method. Instructions to check this follow the table below.

USB3-HUB81X4

USB3-HUB7-81X

Please carefully identify the chip version of your hub first. VIA’s firmware update utility does not automatically distinguish chips, and writing the wrong firmware will brick your hub. If you’re unsure but have evidence that you need a firmware update, just email support@plugable.com and we’ll be happy to help.
VL811 Units shipping from Mid-March 2013 have firmware v9.83- this is the latest available version. Older units shipped with firmware versions 9.20, 9.72, and 9.82- customers with any of these older versions should use the Plugable VL-811 USB 3.0 hub update utility. Units sold until November 16, 2012 have the VL811 chipset. These units shipped with firmware versions 9.20, 9.72, and 9.82- customers with any of these older versions should use the Plugable VL-811 USB 3.0 hub update utility.
VL812 Units purchased from Amazon US after November 16, 2012 (January 17, 2013 for Amazon UK orders) have the VL812 chipset. Depending on your order date and location, these units may have had firmware version 8564, 8571, or 0701. Customers with any of these older versions should use the Plugable VL-812 USB 3.0 hub update utility.

The discontinued USB3-HUB4 (white) also used VL811 and can follow the same steps as the black four port using the Plugable VL811 USB 3.0 hub update utility.

How can I tell what chip and version of firmware I have?

Windows

To launch windows device manager, hit the Windows-R hot-key and run devmgmt.msc

  1. Find your hub under “Universal Serial Bus controllers.” The device will typically be listed as a “Generic SuperSpeed USB Hub” although it may appear as a “Renesas USB 3.0 Hub” “AMD USB 3.0 Hub” or other entry depending on your system’s USB 3 host controller chipset and driver. Pictured below on the left, highlighted in a red box.
  2. Right click on the device and choose “Properties” (not pictured).
  3. From the properties window that comes up, select “Details.” After doing so the window will update to show information similar to what is pictured on the right below.
  4. From the device’s details page, select “Hardware IDs” as pictured below on the right.

The firmware version can now be seen under the “Details” tab and “Hardware Ids” as pictured below, highlighted in blue on the bottom right.

812win

Note the “REV” details listed after the VID and PID are the version numbers to check in the “Latest Firmware Versions by chip set” section below.


Mac

To launch Apple’s system profile, from the left your menu bar, click the Apple Logo, hold down the alt/option key, and click “System Information.” Different models of hub will display differently, however you’ll know you found the right device when you find one with the following details: in the lower right hand section of the next 2 images:

Product ID: 0×0812
Vendor ID: 0×2109 (Via Labs, Inc)

Note the OS X System profile entries for hub firmware version (both old version 8564 and new version 8571 are pictured below, two hubs were connected)

Mapping USB VID, PID, and REV to your chip and firmware version

VIA does not set USB REV to be consistently mapped to the firmware version, but you can map them like this:

Hardware Ids (USB VID, PID, and REV VIA chip and firmware version
VID 2109, PID 0812, REV 8571 VIA VL812, firmware version 8581
VID 2109, PID 0811, REV 3198 VIA VL811, firmware version 9.83

Once you have your firmware version, you can compare against the latest available firmware versions.

Latest firmware versions by chipset

Chipset Firmware
VL811 9.83
VL812 8581

Firmware Update Utility system compatibility

As mentioned before, the actual firmware update process requires a USB 3.0 capable Windows PC.

We’ve tested this firmware flash utility on 32 and 64 bit Windows 7, 64 bit Windows 8, as well as 32 bit Windows XP with good results. We were also able to successfully update the firmware on a hub running Windows 7×64 in BootCamp (Parallels and other virtual machines, however, will not work).

If you do not have access to a Windows PC with USB 3.0 support (or a BootCamp partition on your Mac) please contact support@plugable.com for assistance.

Updating VL811, VL811+, or VL812 USB 3 Hub Firmware

Download the appropriate firmware upgrade utility below. Save the file, do not run it from its current location.

Plugable VL-811 USB 3.0 hub update utility.

Plugable VL-812 USB 3.0 hub update utility.

After the file is downloaded, double click on the file, and follow the prompt: pressing Y (then enter) to continue when prompted.

The utility will either confirm that it has detected a VIA VL811 or VL812 hub and briefly show the current firmware version before proceeding with the update, or inform you if no hub is detected. Confirmation of whether the upgrade has completed successfully or failed will also be shown. This should happen within 15-30 seconds after launching the utility and pressing Y (then enter) when prompted.

After update has fully completed successfully, you must unplug both power and incoming USB to the hub to reset it. After waiting a few seconds, plug the power, then the USB cable to your PC back in. If you follow the steps above for checking the firmware version, you should see the newly applied version.

Please feel free to comment with your results and observations if you run into issues during the actual upgrade. We welcome your feedback, and will update the post with any improvements.

Thank you!

Plugable’s USB 3 Hubs and OS X

USB 3 support is still evolving on OS X. Below is a listing of the known issues affecting our hubs on OS X:

1. Updates specific to certain models of Apple computer are available that affect “USB 3 reliability.” Applying all updates from the App store on your USB3 Mac is recommended for best results, and seems particularly important on the following new models:

  • 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pro.
  • Mac Mini with USB 3.0
  • iMac with USB 3.0

Since many OS X updates are model-specific, we are unable to provide a listing of all relevant updates for your system. Apple’s built in Software Update via the App store is the recommended method to check for updates for your system. Sample updates relevant to particularly affected models are below:
http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1603

This update is recommended for all 13” MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 21.5″ iMac (Late 2012) and Mac mini (Late 2012) systems.
It includes all features and updates from OS X Mountain Lion v10.8.2 plus system-specific enhancements and fixes for Late 2012 systems.

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1609

This update includes graphics performance and reliability enhancements and improves compatibility with some USB devices.
This update is recommended for all Mac notebooks introduced in June 2012.

http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1542

This update is recommended for MacBook Pro (mid 2012) models.
The update includes fixes that improve graphics stability, external display support, and USB 3 device support.

2. VL812 based USB3-HUB7-81X 7 port units with firmware version 8571 are recommended for OS X users.

Units with v8564 are still shipping, which will have the following issues on OS X:

  • May not detect some USB Mass Storage devices connected to the hub.
  • USB Mass Storage devices connected to the hub before the hub is connected to the Mac are not detected. This issue also appears when you reboot your Mac and have to unplug/replug your USB 3 storage devices for them to be detected.
  • Ports 1-4 do not work if the AC power supply isn’t connected. If ports 1-4 do not work, please check your power supply and make sure the green light is lit.

Please see our Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades blog post for details on how to perform this upgrade on a USB 3.0 capable Windows XP or later PC (or from a BootCamp partition on your Mac). Please contact support@plugable.com if you do not have access to a Windows XP or later PC with USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 does not work), or a BootCamp partition on your Mac (Parallels and other virtual machines do not work, only BootCamp).

3. VL811 based USB3-HUB81X4 4 port units with firmware versions prior to firmware v983/rev3198 may have an issue where USB storage devices connected to the hub do not resume from sleep properly. Please see our Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades blog post for details.

4. Apple’s super drive does not work when connected to a hub.
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT2801

The SuperDrive is designed exclusively for use with MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac mini’s that do not have a built-in optical drive. The SuperDrive must be directly plugged into the computer’s USB port, and cannot be used if connected to a USB hub.”

This is because the SuperDrive requires 1100 milliamps of power, substantially more than allowed by the USB specifications that hubs are designed to meet. As a result, the Apple SuperDrive will only work when connected directly to your Mac.

5. USB Audio devices (especially 5.1 and 7.1 USB sound cards and recording input devices) have been reported to have a variety of issues when connected via the hub. Details on this issue are in this thread on our support forum.

6. Other troubleshooting and information regarding OS X USB 3.0 Support are discussed on Apple’s support page here.

Please be aware that troubleshooting may be time consuming and we may not be able to resolve issues other than #2 and #3 above.

VIA VL811 USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrade

2.8.13:This post is no longer current

Please refer to our newer post Plugable USB 3.0 Hub Firmware Upgrades

VIA Labs has released a new firmware version for their VL811 USB 3.0 hub chipset.

A primary feature is a work around for issues on Mac OS X 10.8 systems, where USB storage devices would disconnect unexpectedly upon system sleep. Windows and Linux users will likely see limited benefit from applying this upgrade (as those OSes did not have this same disconnect problem), so we would advise against upgrading unless you’ve encountered a specific issue. Note that late 2012 Macs (Macbook Pro Retina, iMac, Mac Mini) have USB 3.0 issues that are not solved by any firmware update (we’re expecting an Apple update for these at some point).

One challenge is the firmware update utility VIA provides is Windows-only, even though a primary benefit for this particular version is for Mac users — you’ll need a copy of Windows and a USB 3.0 capable machine to update your hub.

We’ve tested the upgrade succesfully on Plugable’s USB hubs, including the 7 port USB3-HUB7-81X (VL811 version; versions purchased after November 2012 use the different VL812 chipset), 4-port USB3-HUB4 (currently out of stock), and 4-port USB3-HUB81X4.

Note: The Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 Universal Laptop Docking Station is not compatible with VIA’s generic hub firmware update utility — putting a generic firmware on the UD-3000 dock will make it non-functional and non-recoverable. Only use the information in this post for updating standalone USB 3.0 Hubs.

We’ve tested the firmware flash utility on 32 and 64 bit Windows 7, 64 bit Windows 8, as well as 32 bit Windows XP with good results. We were also able to successfully update the firmware on a hub running Windows 7×64 in BootCamp (Parallels and other virtual machines, however, will not work).

Determining if you need the update

You can check the Apple System Profile or Windows Device Manager to determine what version of firmware you currently have.

To launch Apple’s system profiler, from the top right of your screen click the Apple Logo, choose “About This Mac” and click “More Info” on the screen that pops up. Another screen will appear: click the button here for “System Report.” Once system report is loaded, click on “USB” at the bottom of the “Hardware” section, and then find your USB hub. Different models of hub will display differently, however you’ll know you found the right device when you find one with the following details: in the lower right hand section of the next 2 images:

Product ID: 0×0811
Vendor ID: 0×2109 (Via Labs, Inc)

OS X System profiler entry for hub with older firmware version (version 0300)

OS X System profiler entry for hub with firmware upgrade applied (version 2A97)

Note that the new firmware will show as revision 2a.97 on Mac after update.

Checking VIA firmware version in Windows

To launch windows device manager, hit the Windows-R hotkey and run devmgmt.msc

Find your hub under “Universal Serial Bus controllers”. The firmware version can be seen under the “Details” tab and “Hardware Ids”.

And here’s a hub already updated to the new firmware.

Updating VL811 Firmware

Download the latest VL811 specific version from VIA here:
VIA hub firmware download page.

We recommend having your hub connected to AC (wall) power, and disconnecting all devices from your hub before updating the firmware. Also, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” If you’re not experiencing the hard drive disconnect issue on OS X, it’s best to forgo the update.

Upgrading your Via VL-811 chip based USB 3.0 hub is a 2 step process:

  1. Download and extract the firmware update zip file from the link above
  2. open and start the USB3HubFWUpgrade.exe utility to update your hub

Please note that Disabling User Account Controls as suggested in the Via user guide was neither required by our tests, nor advisable in our opinion. We recommend you do not disable User Account Controls on your Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8 PC. If your hub isn’t detected by the firmware upgrade utility, please try right clicking on the utility and choosing “Run As Administrator.”

Note that 2012 Macbook Pro Retina and 2012 Mac Mini systems have additional issues with USB 3.0 that aren’t related to or fixed by this firmware update. Apple users who just have drives lost on sleep, but who don’t have access to a Windows PC, should contact us at support@plugable.com — we’ll be happy to help.

We welcome your feedback. Please comment below if you have any questions or if you find any discrepancies in our steps above. Thank you!