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Welcome to Device Tech Bytes 17th Vol! In the previous Tech Byte topic, we have learned All About Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality By Me. Today let's dive into the world of USB Universal Serial Bus (USB) which was developed in the 1990s in an effort to simplify the connections between computers and peripheral devices. It has become widely popular due to its compatibility with many platforms and operating systems, its low cost of implementation, and its ease of use. Most computers that are built today come with several USB ports, and USB is the interface of choice for most home and office peripherals including printers, cameras, modems, and portable storage devices.
What is USB?
USB standards are developed and maintained by an industry body called the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF). In its original specification, USB defined only two connector types: A and B. Revisions to the specification and demands on manufacturers have expanded the breadth of connectors used for USB devices, but the majority of USB products still use these A and B connector interfaces. USB is a series of standards (see Table 1) that specify how cables connect, communicate, and exchange power with electronic devices and related peripherals. Each USB standard has its own data transfer speeds, maximum power, and maximum cable lengths. They all also operate with specific types of USB cable/port connectors.
Types of USB Connectors
A number of different USB connectors exist, all of which I have described below
This is the standard connector, found on one end of almost every USB cable. It's a rectangular connector that only fits in one way. You'll find several USB-A ports on virtually every desktop computer and laptop. Many TVs, game systems, cars, media players, and other devices have one or more, too. You won't find cables with USB-A on either end, as there's really no situation in which this could be useful. In fact, connecting two computers with a USB-A cable could damage them both.
A-A cables are used to connect USB devices with an A-style Female port to a PC or another USB device and for data transfer between two computer systems. Note: Typically an A-A cable is not intended to connect two computers together or to connect a USB hub between two computers. Doing so may cause irreparable damage to your computers and may even present a fire hazard. Check with the manufacturer before using an A-A cable for data transfer.
Officially called USB Standard-B, these plugs and receptacles are square-shaped with an extra notch on top, most noticeable on USB 3.0 Type B connectors. USB 1.1 Type B and USB 2.0 Type B plugs are physically compatible with USB 3.0 Type B receptacles but USB 3.0 Type B plugs are not compatible with USB 2.0 Type B or USB 1.1 Type B receptacles.
The B-style connector is designed for use on USB peripheral devices. The B-style interface is squarish in shape and has slightly beveled corners on the top ends of the connector. Like the A connector, it uses the friction of the connector body to stay in place. The B-socket is an "upstream" connector that is only used on peripheral devices. Because of this, the majority of USB applications require an A-B cable.
USB 3.0 Micro B
The USB 3.0 Micro B connector is found on USB 3.0 devices. This connector is designed to carry data and power in USB SuperSpeed applications. Cables with this connector are not backward compatible with USB 2.0 or USB 1.1 devices.
If you know about USB-C, you may have also heard about the Thunderbolt hardware interface. This is a standard that allows a USB-C port and cable to transfer data at speedy rates, connect to high-resolution displays, and perform other tasks. Not every USB-C port supports Thunderbolt 3, though. For example, Apple's newest MacBook Pro models feature several Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports. But the standard MacBook's single USB-C port lacks Thunderbolt 3 support.
Because of all this, USB-C is a bit confusing. The port can either be a basic USB port similar to the ones above, or it can be a multi-purpose jack. This depends on the device.
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The future of thunderbolt is not clear if Intel plans on updating Thunderbolt to version 4, but the future for Thunderbolt 3 is very clear. Intel’s Thunderbolt protocol is merging into USB4. The specification for USB4 was announced in the summer of 2019, with USB4 based products rolling out in 2020 or 2021.
USB Speed Standards
Throughout its life, USB has updated its standards a few times. In addition to the types of connectors on each end, each USB cable and the port has a standard of speed.
USB 2.0 is still used in cheaper flash drives, along with many mice, keyboards, and similar devices. If a cable or port doesn't have any USB 3 markings, as discussed below, it's likely USB 2.0.
Many external hard drives and higher-end flash drives use USB 3. USB-C cables are always USB 3. Older cable types, like micro-USB, require a special connector type for USB 3.0 compatibility. You'll often see this kind of connector on external hard drives so they can take advantage of USB 3 speeds.
USB Power Delivery
Up to 100W of power can be delivered across a single USB cable, eliminating the need for a separate power brick. This is especially useful for peripherals that draw higher power levels, such as hard drives and printers. Not all devices will support USB Power Delivery, however; consult your device's specifications chart or owner's manual if you are uncertain.
Examples of USB Power Delivery
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