USB 2.0

Already in existence for half a decade, the Universal Serial Bus is ready for its next generation. USB is a now-common interface available on PCs and Macintosh computers that allows easy connection of peripherals such as printers, scanners, and mice. Supported since Windows 98, USB 1.1 has become a common way to connect these devices to a computer.

USB 2.0 promises many of the same features as the original version, such as daisy chaining, connecting up to 127 devices, and the ability to add USB hubs for easy connectivity. However its increased bandwidth of 480 Mbps
(exceeding that of IEEE 1394 FireWire which only provides 400 Mbps) will allow users to connect devices that consume a great deal of bandwidth such as external storage devices, scanners, printers, DVD drives, CD-RW drives, MO (Magneto-Optical) drives, and digital cameras/camcorders to your computer. This is 40 times faster than USB 1.1's maximum speed of just 12 Mbps, and is even much faster than existing IDE hard drive interfaces. USB 2.0 is also backwards compatible with USB 1.1 devices. USB 2.0's high bandwidth promises easy portability for devices such as portable hard drives and tape backup drives, while retaining a high performance level.

Just beginning to appear built in to computers, USB 2.0 can also be added to any existing PC for under $100. Adapter cards also exist that combine USB 2.0 and other interfaces such as IEEE 1394 (FireWire), if users want to ensure future compatibility with IEEE 1394-compatible devices, typically found in the digital video equipment arena.

For users planning for the future, most USB 2.0 devices will work on a USB 1.1 system, however they will of course operate at the slower speed.

August 2002

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