Universal Serial Bus

The USB cable has been on the market for two decades now and when the USB connector first came out, it was revolutionary in that it replaced a collection of confusing connector types for serial ports, parallel ports, PS/2 connections, joystick ports, all of which required dedicated hardware and drivers.  I just ordered a new computer and it will have 11 USB ports, but I was not aware that there are so many different types.  I need USB connections for my mouse, keyboard, printer, speakers, cam, phone and for connecting external storage devices, so I use seven USB ports on a daily basis and this will leave me with 4 extras.  My new computer will have (2) USB 2.0 ports, (6) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Ports, (1) USB 3.1 Gen 2 port, and (2) USB 3.1 Type-C Ports.  USB protocol has evolved and I thought that I should look into this before my new computer arrives, so I know which port, I should be plugging my devices into.

I won’t have any USB 1 ports, but for your information USB 1.0 run at 1.5 Megabits per second (Mbps) and USB 1.1: 12 run at Megabits per second (Mbps).  Devices that adhere to the USB 2.0 standard have the ability to transmit data at a maximum speed of 480 Mbps, which is much slower than USB 3.0.  A USB 3.0 Type B plug cannot be plugged in to a USB 2.0 B socket due to its plug shape change.  Computer speed is not just about the connection as it also is dependent on the CPU and the amount of RAM available.  I will use the (2) USB 2.0 ports for my slower devices, which are my keyboard and mouse.

USB 3.0 is also known as USB 3.1 and it is capable of data transfer speeds up to 5Gbps, but USB 3.0 doesn’t really exist anymore and the terms USB 3.0 and USB 3.1 Gen 1 are synonymous, as the USB 3.0 plus became the USB 3.1 Gen1.  USB 3.1 Gen 2 is capable of data transfer speeds up to 10Gbps.  USB 3.1 Gen 1 is termed “SuperSpeed USB,” and USB 3.1 Gen 2 is called “SuperSpeed USB+”.

Type A is the “original” USB connector and it is the most recognizable and the most commonly used connector.  USB 3.0 Type A connectors are often blue in color or come with an “SS” logo to help distinguish them from previous generations.  The USB Type B connector (technically known as a “Standard B” connector) is roughly square in appearance, with a square like protrusion on top.  Type B ports are found on USB non-host devices, such as audio interfaces, external hard drives, and printers.  USB Type A and Type B connectors come in three different sizes, those being Standard, MINI and MICRO.  USB mini B sockets were designed for the earlier models of smartphones, but as smartphones have become more compact and with sleeker profiles, the Mini USB plug has been replaced by the micro USB.  The micro USB connector has become the most common type of USB cable available as of 2018, being the successor to mini USB, and in contrast to mini USB, micro USB connectors and ports are flatter and feature a slight taper.

The USB Type-C is a fairly new shape that came out in 2015 and it is smaller and many people say this will replace the most commonly used USB Type-A as the standard shape on many USB devices.  A USB-C is capable of transferring data at rates up to 10Gbps and can deliver up to 10 volts, five amps and 100 watts of charging power.  Type-C offers bi-directional power, thus you can not only charge your smartphone through your laptop, but also the other way around!  One USB Type-C cable won’t be identical to another, which means that consumers need to be careful and pay close attention to a given cable’s capabilities.  The USB-C connector looks similar to a micro USB connector at first glance, though it’s more oval in shape and slightly thicker and the best thing about it is that it has no up or down orientation, so you just line it up, and you never have to flip it over to plug it in.  There is a lot more to know, but this should be a good start.

8 thoughts on “Universal Serial Bus

  1. You’re speaking another language to me. I let my sons, who are both geeks, take care of that mess. Good luck, Jim! Sounds like they have some of each. I’ve also seen what looks like a USB “extension cord”, where you plug into one port, but the cord itself has 5 or 6 other ports.

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      1. I had never repaired a Mac before until someone asks me to look at their grandsons Macbook pro. Well, it needed everything. The hardware in Macs is the same as in a PC for the most part. I had to replace the hard drive and the battery the DVD drive and the worst was the keyboard which has over 50 tiny and mean tiny screws. I finally fixed it but it was a pain.

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