USB – Universal Serial Bus

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A Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a type of connection present in a computer or other electronic devices. The first Universal Serial Bus standard came up in 1996 and the latest specification version 4 came in 2019. It establishes specifications for cables and connectors and protocols for connection, communication and power supply between computers, peripheral devices and other computers. Before Universal Serial Bus, different types of connectors and cables were used for different devices. This standard came up to simplify and improve this connection process.

Most of the common devices that we use – hard disk drives and USB-drives (or often called pen-drives) are based on the USB protocol only. Most of the modern computers have one or more USB ports where supported devices can be connected. The Universal Serial Bus standard has grown massively since its inception. The benefit of having USB supported devices is that they can be simply plugged into a computer and they start functioning right away. There is no need to restart the computer. Now-a-days, even mobile phones are coming up with USB ports which can be used for charging the mobile phones as well as connecting other supported devices. Generally, the user does not have to change any additional settings in the computer’s operating system to make the USB device functional. Due to its usability and flexibility, the devices which used to have their own separate ports (mouse, keyboard, printer, etc) have now shifted to Universal Serial Bus to a large extent.

There have been 4 versions of Universal Serial Bus (1 to 4), which are as follows:

  • version 1.1: Maximum transmission rate of 12 Mbps, called Full Speed USB.
  • version 2.0: Maximum transmission rate of 480 Mbps, called High-Speed USB.
  • version 3.2 Gen 1 (Previously called v 3.0): Maximum transmission rate of 5 Gbps (5,120 Mbps), called SuperSpeed USB.
  • version 3.2 Gen 2 (Previously called v 3.1): Maximum transmission rate of 10 Gbps (10,240 Mbps), called Superspeed+.
  • version 3.2 Gen 2×2 (Also known as v 3.2): Maximum transmission rate of 20 Gbps (20,480 Mbps), called Superspeed+ USB dual-lane.
  • version 4 (Based on the Thunderbolt 3 specification): USB4 supports 40 Gbps (40,960 Mbps).

It is to be noted that USB cables are backward compatible, i.e. version 3 device will be able to work on a version computer. Since USB devices come with different kind of connectors, if you have a device whose connector is different from what your computer supports, you may use a converter which convert one type of port into another for compatibility.

For Wikipedia entry on Universal Serial Bus, click here.

For more posts on Computer basics, click here.

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