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Universal Serial Bus

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"USB" redirects here. For other uses, see USB (disambiguation).

Universal Serial Bus

Original USB Logo

Year created: January 1996

Width: 1 bit

Number of 127 per host

devices: controller

Capacity 12 or 480
Mbit/s (1.5 to
60 MByte/s)

Style: Serial

Hotplugging? Yes

External? Yes
A USB Series “A” plug, the most common USB plug

The USB "trident" Icon

Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a serial bus standard to interface devices.

USB was designed to allow many peripherals to be connected using a
single standardized interface socket and to improve the plug-and-play
capabilities by allowing devices to be connected and disconnected
without rebooting the computer (hot swapping). Other convenient
features include providing power to low-consumption devices without
the need for an external power supply and allowing many devices to be
used without requiring manufacturer specific, individual device drivers
to be installed.

USB is intended to help retire all legacy varieties of serial and parallel
ports. USB can connect computer peripherals such as computer
mouse, keyboards, PDAs, gamepads and joysticks, scanners, digital
cameras, printers, personal media players, and flash drives. For many
of those devices USB has become the standard connection method.
USB was originally designed for personal computers, but it has become
commonplace on other devices such as PDAs and video game
consoles. As of 2008, there are about 2 billion USB devices in the

The design of USB is standardized by the USB Implementers Forum

(USB-IF), an industry standards body incorporating leading companies
from the computer and electronics industries. Notable members have
included Agere (now merged with LSI Corporation), Apple Inc., Hewlett-
Packard, Intel, NEC, and Microsoft.



• 1 History
• 2 Overview
• 3 Host controllers
• 4 Device classes
o 4.1 USB mass-storage
o 4.2 Human-interface devices (HIDs)
• 5 USB signaling
• 6 USB protocol analyzers
• 7 USB connector properties
o 7.1 Usability
o 7.2 Durability
o 7.3 Compatibility
• 8 Types of USB connector
o 8.1 Proprietary connectors and formats
• 9 USB cables
o 9.1 Maximum Useful Signalling Distance
• 10 Power
o 10.1 Non-standard devices
o 10.2 PoweredUSB
• 11 USB compared with FireWire
• 12 Version history
o 12.1 Prereleases
o 12.2 USB 1.0
o 12.3 USB 2.0
o 12.4 USB 3.0
• 13 Related technologies
• 14 See also
• 15 References
• 16 External links

o 16.1 USB 3.0

[edit ] Hist or y
The USB 1.0 specification was introduced in November 1995. USB was
promoted by Intel (UHCI and open software stack), Microsoft (Windows
software stack), Philips (Hub, USB-Audio), and US Robotics. Originally
USB was intended to replace the multitude of connectors at the back
of PCs, as well as to simplify software configuration of communication

The original Apple "Bondi blue" iMac G3, introduced 6 May 1998, was
the first computer to offer USB ports as standard [2], including the
connector for its new keyboard and mouse.[3] USB 1.1 came out in
September 1998 to help rectify the adoption problems that occurred
with earlier iterations of USB.[4]

As of 2008, the USB specification is at version 2.0 (with revisions).

Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent (now Alcatel-Lucent), Microsoft, NEC,
and Philips jointly led the initiative to develop a higher data transfer
rate than the 1.1 specification. The USB 2.0 specification was released
in April 2000 and was standardized by the USB-IF at the end of 2001.
Equipment conforming with any version of the standard will also work
with devices designed to any previous specification (known as
backward compatibility).

Smaller USB plugs and receptacles for use in handheld and mobile
devices, called Mini-B, were added to USB specification in the first
engineering change notice. A new variant of smaller USB plugs and
receptacles, Micro-USB, was announced by the USB Implementers
Forum on January 4, 2007.[5]

[edit ] Ov er view

A conventional USB hub

A USB system has an asymmetric design, consisting of a host, a
multitude of downstream USB ports, and multiple peripheral devices
connected in a tiered-star topology. Additional USB hubs may be
included in the tiers, allowing branching into a tree structure, subject
to a limit of 5 levels of tiers. USB host may have multiple host
controllers and each host controller may provide one or more USB
ports. Up to 127 devices, including the hub devices, may be connected
to a single host controller.

USB devices are linked in series through hubs. There always exists one
hub known as the root hub, which is built-in to the host controller. So-
called "sharing hubs", which allow multiple computers to access the
same peripheral device(s), also exist and work by either switching
access between PCs automatically or manually. They are popular in
small-office environments. In network terms, they converge rather than
diverge branches.

A single physical USB device may consist of several logical sub-

devices that are referred to as device functions, because each
individual device may provide several functions, such as a webcam
(video device function) with a built-in microphone (audio device

USB endpoints actually reside on the connected device: the channels

to the host are referred to as pipes

USB device communication is based on pipes (logical channels). Pipes

are connections from the host controller to a logical entity on the
device named an endpoint. The term endpoint is also occasionally used
to refer to the pipe. A USB device can have up to 32 active pipes, 16
into the host controller and 16 out of the controller. Each endpoint can
transfer data in one direction only, either into or out of the device, so
each pipe is uni-directional. Endpoints are grouped into interfaces and
each interface is associated with a single device function. An
exception to this is endpoint zero, which is used for device
configuration and which is not associated with any interface.

When a new USB device is connected to a USB host, the USB device
enumeration process is started. The enumeration process first sends a
reset signal to the USB device. The speed of the USB device is
determined during the reset signaling. After reset, USB device setup
information is read from the device by the host and the device is
assigned a unique host-controller-specific 7-bit address. If the device is
supported by the host, the device drivers needed for communicating
with the device are loaded and the device is set to configured state. If
the USB host is restarted, the enumeration process is repeated for all
connected devices.

The host controller polls the bus for traffic, usually in a round-robin
fashion, so no USB device can transfer any data on the bus without an
explicit request from the host controller.

[edit ] Host c ontr oller s

The computer hardware that contains the host controller and the root
hub has an interface geared toward the programmer which is called
Host Controller Device (HCD) and is defined by the hardware

In the version 1.x age, there were two competing HCD

implementations, Open Host Controller Interface (OHCI) and Universal
Host Controller Interface (UHCI). OHCI was developed by Compaq,
Microsoft and National Semiconductor; UHCI was by Intel.

A typical USB connector.

VIA Technologies licensed the UHCI standard from Intel; all other
chipset implementers use OHCI. UHCI is more software-driven, making
UHCI slightly more processor-intensive than OHCI but cheaper to
implement. The dueling implementations forced operating system
vendors and hardware vendors to develop and test on both
implementations, which increased cost.
HCD standards are out of the USB specification's scope, and the USB
specification does not specify any HCD interfaces. In other words, USB
defines the format of data transfer through the port, but not the system
by which the USB hardware communicates with the computer it sits in.

During the design phase of USB 2.0, the USB-IF insisted on only one
implementation. The USB 2.0 HCD implementation is called the
Enhanced Host Controller Interface (EHCI). Only EHCI can support hi-
speed (480 Mbit/s) transfers. Most of PCI-based EHCI controllers
contain other HCD implementations called 'companion host controller'
to support Full Speed (12 Mbit/s) and Low Speed (1.5 Mbit/s) devices.
The virtual HCD on Intel and VIA EHCI controllers are UHCI. All other
vendors use virtual OHCI controllers.

[edit ] De vic e c lass es

Devices that attach to the bus can be full-custom devices requiring a

full-custom device driver to be used, or may belong to a device class.
These classes define an expected behavior in terms of device and
interface descriptors so that the same device driver may be used for
any device that claims to be a member of a certain class. An operating
system is supposed to implement all device classes so as to provide
generic drivers for any USB device. Device classes are decided upon by
the Device Working Group of the USB Implementers Forum.

Device classes include:[6]

Class Usage Description Examples

(Device class is unspecified.

class 0
00h Device Unspecified Interface descriptors are used for
determining the required drivers.)

01h Interface Audio speaker, microphone, sound card

Communications and ethernet adapter, modem, serial

02h Both
CDC Control port adapter
Human Interface
03h Interface keyboard, mouse, joystick
Device (HID)

Physical Interface
05h Interface force feedback joystick
Device (PID)

Digital Camera (Most cameras

06h Interface Image function as Mass Storage for
direct access to storage media).

07h Interface Printer laser printer, Inkjet printer

USB flash drive, memory card

08h Interface Mass Storage
reader, digital audio player

09h Device USB hub full speed hub, hi-speed hub

(This class is used together with

0Ah Interface CDC-Data class 02h - Communications and
CDC Control.)

0Bh Interface Smart Card USB smart card reader

0Dh Interface Content Security -

0Eh Interface Video Webcam

0Fh Interface Personal Healthcare -

DCh Both Diagnostic Device USB compliance testing device

E0h Interface Wireless Controller Wi-Fi adapter, Bluetooth adapter

EFh Both Miscellaneous ActiveSync device

FEh Interface Application Specific IrDA Bridge

(This class code indicates that the

FFh Both Vendor Specific device needs vendor specific

Note class 0: Use class information in the Interface Descriptors. This

base class is defined to be used in Device Descriptors to indicate that
class information should be determined from the Interface Descriptors
in the device.

[edit ] USB mas s-stor a ge

Main article: USB mass storage device class

A flash drive, a typical USB mass-storage device.

USB implements connections to storage devices using a set of

standards called the USB mass storage device class (referred to as
MSC or UMS). This was initially intended for traditional magnetic and
optical drives, but has been extended to support a wide variety of
devices, particularly flash drives. This generality is because many
systems can be controlled with the familiar idiom of file manipulation
within directories (The process of making a novel device look like a
familiar device is also known as extension).

Though most computers are capable of booting off USB Mass Storage
devices, USB is not intended to be a primary bus for a computer's
internal storage: buses such as ATA (IDE), Serial ATA (SATA), and SCSI
fulfill that role. However, USB has one important advantage in that it is
possible to install and remove devices without opening the computer
case, making it useful for external drives. Originally conceived and still
used today for optical storage devices (CD-RW drives, DVD drives, etc.),
a number of manufacturers offer external portable USB hard drives, or
empty enclosures for drives, that offer performance comparable to
internal drives. These external drives usually contain a translating
device that interfaces a drive of conventional technology (IDE, ATA,
SATA, ATAPI, or even SCSI) to a USB port. Functionally, the drive
appears to the user just like another internal drive. Other competing
standards that allow for external connectivity are eSATA and FireWire.

[edit ] Huma n-interfac e d evi ces (HI Ds)

Mice and keyboards are frequently fitted with USB connectors, but
because most PC motherboards still retain PS/2 connectors for the
keyboard and mouse as of 2007, they are often supplied with a small
USB-to-PS/2 adaptor, allowing usage with either USB or PS/2 interface.
There is no logic inside these adaptors: they make use of the fact that
such HID interfaces are equipped with controllers that are capable of
serving both the USB and the PS/2 protocol, and automatically detect
which type of port they are plugged into. Joysticks, keypads, tablets
and other human-interface devices are also progressively migrating
from MIDI, PC game port, and PS/2 connectors to USB.

Apple Macintosh computers have been using USB exclusively for all
external wired mice and keyboards since January 1999 (Powerbooks
used ADB keyboards until 2005[citation needed]). The original iMac raised
public awareness of USB considerably in August 1998, as it discarded
legacy ports to use only USB. PCs had USB ports prior to the iMac's
introduction, but they were included with a full complement of
traditional ports which limited USB's adoption. The iMac's influence
can be seen in the number of USB peripherals with matching
translucent, colored plastic enclosures that were available in the late
'90s and early '00s.

[edit ] USB sign alin g

USB supports three data rates:

• A Low Speed (1.1, 2.0) rate of 1.5 Mbit/s (187.5 kB/s) that is
mostly used for Human Interface Devices (HID) such as
keyboards, mice, and joysticks.
• A Full Speed (1.1, 2.0) rate of 12 Mbit/s (1.5 MB/s). Full Speed was
the fastest rate before the USB 2.0 specification and many
devices fall back to Full Speed. Full Speed devices divide the
USB bandwidth between them in a first-come first-served basis
and it is not uncommon to run out of bandwidth with several
isochronous devices. All USB hubs support Full Speed.
• A High-Speed (2.0) rate of 480 Mbit/s (60 MB/s).

Experimental data rate:

• A Super-Speed (3.0) rate of 4.8 Gbit/s (600 MB/s). The USB 3.0
specification will be released by Intel and its partners in mid-
2008, according to early reports from CNET news. According to
Intel, bus speeds will be 10 times faster than USB 2.0 due to the
inclusion of a fiber-optic link that works with traditional copper
connectors. Products using the 3.0 specification are likely to
arrive in 2009 or 2010.

USB signals are transmitted on a twisted pair data cable with 90Ω
±15% impedance,[7] labeled D+ and D−. These collectively use half-
duplex differential signaling to combat the effects of electromagnetic
noise on longer lines. D+ and D− usually operate together; they are not
separate simplex connections. Transmitted signal levels are 0.0–0.3
volts for low and 2.8–3.6 volts for high in Full Speed and Low Speed
modes, (and ±400mV in High Speed (HS) mode) this phrase is ambiguous. In FS
mode the cable wires are not terminated, but the HS mode has
termination of 45Ω to ground, or 90Ω differential to match the data
cable impedance.

USB uses a special protocol called "chirping" to negotiate the High-

Speed mode. In simplified terms, a device that is HS capable always
connects as an FS device first, but after receiving a USB RESET (both
D+ and D- are driven LOW by host) it tries to pull the D- line high. If the
host (or hub) is also HS capable, it returns alternating signals on D- and
D+ lines letting the device know that the tier will operate at High

Clock tolerance is 480.00 Mbit/s ±500ppm, 12.000 Mbit/s ±2500ppm,

1.50 Mbit/s ±15000ppm.

The USB standard uses the NRZI system to encode data, and uses "bit
stuffing" by always injecting one artificial "zero" bit if the stream of
data contains six consecutive "ones" before converting the bit stream
to NRZI.
Though Hi-Speed devices are commonly referred to as "USB 2.0" and
advertised as "up to 480 Mbit/s", not all USB 2.0 devices are Hi-Speed.
The USB-IF certifies devices and provides licenses to use special
marketing logos for either "Basic-Speed" (low and full) or Hi-Speed
after passing a compliance test and paying a licensing fee. All devices
are tested according to the latest spec, so recently-compliant Low-
Speed devices are also 2.0 devices.

The actual throughput currently (2006) attained with real devices is

about two thirds of the maximum theoretical bulk data transfer rate of
53.248 MB/s. Typical hi-speed USB devices operate at lower speeds,
often about 3 MB/s overall, sometimes up to 10-20 MB/s.[8]

[edit ] USB pr ot oc ol an al yzer s

Due to the complexities of the USB protocol, USB protocol analyzers

are invaluable tools to people developing USB devices. USB analyzers
are able to capture the data on USB and display information from low-
level bus states to high-level data packets and class-level information.

[edit ] USB co nn ect or pr ope r tie s

Series "A" plug and receptacle.

The connectors specified by the USB committee were designed to

support a number of USB's underlying goals, and to reflect lessons
learned from the varied menagerie of connectors then in service.

[edit ] Usa bility

• It is difficult to incorrectly attach a USB connector. Connectors
cannot be plugged-in upside down, and it is clear from the
appearance and kinesthetic sensation of making a connection
when the plug and socket are correctly mated. However, it is not
obvious at a glance to the inexperienced user (or to a user
without sight of the installation) which way around the connector
goes, so it is often necessary to try both ways. More often than
not, however, the side of the connector with the "trident" logo is
the top.
• Only a moderate insertion/removal force is needed (by
specification). USB cables and small USB devices are held in
place by the gripping force from the receptacle (without the need
for the screws, clips, or thumbturns that other connectors
require). The force needed to make or break a connection is
modest, allowing connections to be made in awkward
circumstances or by those with motor disabilities.
• The connectors enforce the directed topology of a USB network.
USB does not support cyclical networks, so the connectors from
incompatible USB devices are themselves incompatible. Unlike
other communications systems (e.g. RJ-45 cabling) gender-
changers are almost never used, making it difficult to create a
cyclic USB network.

USB extension cord

[edit ] Dur ability

• The connectors are designed to be robust. Many previous

connector designs were fragile, with pins or other delicate
components prone to bending or breaking, even with the
application of only very modest force. The electrical contacts in
a USB connector are protected by an adjacent plastic tongue,
and the entire connecting assembly is usually further protected
by an enclosing metal sheath. As a result USB connectors can
safely be handled, inserted, and removed, even by a small child.
• The connector construction always ensures that the external
sheath on the plug contacts with its counterpart in the
receptacle before the four connectors within are connected. This
sheath is typically connected to the system ground, allowing
otherwise damaging static charges to be safely discharged by
this route (rather than via delicate electronic components). This
means of enclosure also means that there is a (moderate) degree
of protection from electromagnetic interference afforded to the
USB signal while it travels through the mated connector pair (this
is the only location when the otherwise twisted data pair must
travel a distance in parallel). In addition, the power and common
connections are made after the system ground but before the
data connections. This type of staged make-break timing allows
for safe hot-swapping and has long been common practice in the
design of connectors in the aerospace industry.

[edit ] Comp atibility

• The USB standard specifies relatively low tolerances for

compliant USB connectors, intending to minimize
incompatibilities in connectors produced by different vendors (a
goal that has been very successfully achieved). Unlike most
other connector standards, the USB specification also defines
limits to the size of a connecting device in the area around its
plug. This was done to avoid circumstances where a device
complies with the connector specification but its large size
blocks adjacent ports. Compliant devices must either fit within
the size restrictions or support a compliant extension cable
which does.
• Two-way communication is also possible. In general, cables have
only plugs, and hosts and devices have only receptacles: hosts
having type-A receptacles and devices type-B. Type-A plugs only
mate with type-A receptacles, and type-B with type-B. However,
an extension to USB called USB On-The-Go allows a single port
to act as either a host or a device — chosen by which end of the
cable plugs into the socket on the unit. Even after the cable is
hooked up and the units are talking, the two units may "swap"
ends under program control. This facility targets units such as
PDAs where the USB link might connect to a PC's host port as a
device in one instance, yet connect as a host itself to a keyboard
and mouse device in another instance.

[edit ] Type s of USB co nn ect or

USB Connectors

Different types of USB connectors from left to right

• 8-pin mystery plug
• Mini-B plug
• B-type plug
• A-type receptacle
• A-type plug

Pin configuration of the USB connectors Standard A/B, viewed from

face of plug

There are several types of USB connectors, and some have been added
as the specification has progressed. The original USB specification
detailed Standard-A and Standard-B plugs and receptacles. The first
engineering change notice to the USB 2.0 specification added Mini-B
plugs and receptacles. The data slots in the A - Plug are actually
farther in the plug than the outside power wires to prevent data errors
by powering the device first, then transferring data.
The Mini-B, Micro-A, Micro-B , and Micro-AB connectors are used for
smaller devices such as PDAs, mobile phones or digital cameras. The
Standard-A plug is approximately 4 by 12 mm, the Standard-B
approximately 7 by 8 mm, and the Micro-A and Micro-B plugs
approximately 2 by 7 mm.

Micro-USB is a further connector, that was announced by the USB-IF on

January 4, 2007.[9] It is intended to replace the Mini-USB plugs used in
many new smartphones and Personal digital assistants. This Micro-
USB plug is rated for 10,000 connect-disconnect cycles. It is about half
the height of the mini-USB connector, but features a similar width. In
the Universal Serial Bus Micro-USB Cables and Connectors
Specification, details have been laid down for Micro-A plugs, Micro-AB
receptacles, and Micro-B plugs and receptacles, along with a Standard-
A receptacle to Micro-A plug adapter. The carrier led group OMTP have
recently endorsed micro-USB as the standard connector for data and
power on mobile devices.[10]

[edit ] Pr oprieta r y co nn ect or s an d f or mats

Microsoft's original Xbox game console uses standard USB 1.1

signaling in its controllers and memory cards, but features proprietary
connectors and ports. Similarly, IBM UltraPort uses standard USB
signaling, but via a proprietary connection format. American Power
Conversion uses USB signaling and HID device class on its
uninterruptible power supplies using 10P10C connectors. HTC, a
company which makes Windows Mobile-based Communicators, has a
proprietary connector called HTC ExtUSB, which combines mini-USB
with audio input and output. Nokia includes a USB connection as part
of the Pop-Port connector on their mobile phones. The second-
generation iPod Shuffle uses a TRS connector to carry USB, audio, or
power signals. Many digital cameras have a tiny 8 pin connector that
combines USB with video and audio out.

[edit ] USB ca ble s

The maximum length of a standard Pin Name Cable color Description

USB cable is 5.0 meters (16.4 ft). 1 VCC Red +5V
The primary reason for this limit is
2 D− White Data −
the maximum allowed round-trip
delay of about 1500 ns. If a USB 3 D+ Green Data +
device does not answer to host 4 GND Black Ground
commands within the allowed time, the host considers the command to
be lost. When USB device response time, delays from using the
maximum number of hubs and delays from cables connecting the hubs,
host and device are summed, the maximum delay caused by a single
cable turns out to be 26 ns.[11] The USB 2.0 specification states that the
cable delay must be less than 5.2 ns per meter, which means that
maximum length USB cable is 5 meters long. However, this is also very
close to the maximum possible length when using a standard copper


Pin Name Color Description

1 VCC Red +5 V

2 D- White Data -

3 D+ Green Data +

permits distinction of

Micro-A- and Micro-B-Plug

4 ID none
Type A: connected to Ground

Type B: not connected

5 GND Black Signal Ground

The data cables are a twisted pair to reduce noise and crosstalk.

[edit ] Maxim um Usef ul Si gn alling Dista nc e

Although a single cable is limited to 5 meters, the USB specification
permits up to five USB hubs in a long chain of cables and hubs.
Consequently the maximum possible signalling distance is 30 meters,
using six 5-meter cables and five hubs. In actual use, the last hub is a
more convenient endpoint since some USB devices include built-in
cables intended to directly connect to a hub, setting the maximum
useful signalling distance at 25 meters.

Because USB is able to provide power for additional devices connected

to the bus, a special type of USB extender cable was created which
consists of a miniature one-port USB hub molded into one end of a 5
meter cable. These mini-hubs are fully self-contained within the cable,
requiring no separate bulky hub device, and are as simple to use as
plugging cables together, with each hub drawing power through all the
previous single-port hubs in the chain. The bus power is limited
however, so the most practical application is to use four single-port
hub extender cables, one plain 5 meter cable, and then a powered
multiport hub at the very end to support multiple additional USB

[edit ] Power

The USB specification provides a 5 V supply on a single wire from

which connected USB devices may draw power. The specification
provides for no more than 5.25 V and no less than 4.75 V (5 V±5%)
between the positive and negative bus power lines. [12] Initially, a device
is only allowed to draw 100 mA. It may request more current from the
upstream device in units of 2 mA up to a maximum of 500 mA.

If a bus-powered hub is used, the devices downstream may only use a

total of four units — 400 mA — of current. This limits compliant bus-
powered hubs to 4 ports. The host operating system typically keeps
track of the power requirements of the USB network and may warn the
computer's operator when a given segment requires more power than
is available.

On-The-Go and Battery Charging Specification both add new powering

modes to the USB specification. The latter specification allows USB
devices to draw up to 1.5 A from hubs and hosts that follow the Battery
Charging Specification.
As of June 14, 2007, all new mobile phones applying for a license in
China are required to use the USB port as a power port.[13][14]

In September, 2007 the Open Mobile Terminal Platform—a forum

dominated by mobile network operators but including manufacturers
such as Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson and LG—announced
that its members had agreed on micro-USB as the future common
connector for mobile devices.[15][16]

[edit ] Non-st an dar d de vic es

A USB vacuum cleaner

A number of USB devices require more power than is permitted by the

specifications for a single port. This is a common requirement of
external hard and optical disc drives and other devices with motors or
lamps. Such devices can be used with an external power supply of
adequate rating, which is allowed by the standard, or by means of a
dual input USB cable, one input of which is used for power and data
transfer, the other solely for power, which makes the device a non-
standard USB device. Some external hubs may, in practice, supply
more power to USB devices than required by the specification but a
standard compliant device must not depend on this.

Some non-standard USB devices use the 5 V power supply without

participating in a proper USB network. These are usually referred to as
USB decorations. The typical example is a USB-powered reading light;
fans, mug heaters, battery chargers (particularly for mobile
telephones) and even miniature vacuum cleaners are available. In most
cases, these items contain no digitally based circuitry, and thus are
not proper USB devices at all. This can cause problems with some
computers — the USB specification requires that devices connect in a
low-power mode (100 mA maximum) and state how much current they
need, before switching, with the host's permission, into high-power

In addition to limiting the total average power used by the device, the
USB specification limits the inrush current (to charge decoupling and
bulk capacitors) when the device is first connected; otherwise,
connecting a device could cause glitches in the host's internal power.
Also, USB devices are required to automatically enter ultra low-power
suspend mode when the USB host is suspended; many USB hosts do
not cut off the power supply to USB devices when they are suspended
since resuming from the suspended state would become a lot more
complicated if they did.

There are also devices at the host end that do not support negotiation,
such as battery packs that can power USB powered devices; some
provide power, while others pass through the data lines to a host PC.
USB Power adapters convert utility power and/or power from a car's
electrical system to run attached devices. Some of these devices can
supply up to 1 A of current. Without negotiation, the powered USB
device is unable to inquire if it is allowed to draw 100 mA, 500 mA, or
1 A.

The Apple SuperDrive uses a non-standard extension to USB to

negotiate with the MacBook Air to draw 1.5 A from the USB port.[17] Due
to the proprietary protocol, the SuperDrive only functions when
connected directly to the Air, and cannot be operated with an external
supply or through a USB hub, even if the hub can source the current
specified on the package.[18]

[edit ] Power edUSB

Main article: PoweredUSB

PoweredUSB uses standard USB signaling with the addition of extra

power lines. It uses 4 additional pins to supply up to 6A at either 5V,
12V, or 24V (depending on keying) to peripheral devices. The wires and
contacts on the USB portion have been upgraded to support higher
current on the 5V line, as well. This is commonly used in retail systems
and provides enough power to operate stationary barcode scanners,
printers, pin pads, signature capture devices, etc. This standard was
developed by IBM, NCR, and FCI/Berg. It is essentially two connectors
stacked such that the bottom connector accepts a standard USB plug
and the top connector takes a power connector.

[edit ] USB com par ed w ith Fir eW ir e

USB was originally seen as a complement to FireWire (IEEE 1394),

which was designed as a high-speed serial bus which could efficiently
interconnect peripherals such as hard disks, audio interfaces, and
video equipment. USB originally operated at a far lower data rate and
used much simpler hardware, and was suitable for small peripherals
such as keyboards and mice.

The most significant technical differences between FireWire and USB

include the following:

• USB networks use a tiered-star topology, while FireWire

networks use a repeater-based topology.
• USB uses a "speak-when-spoken-to" protocol; peripherals cannot
communicate with the host unless the host specifically requests
communication. A FireWire device can communicate with any
other node at any time, subject to network conditions.
• A USB network relies on a single host at the top of the tree to
control the network. In a FireWire network, any capable node
can control the network.
• USB runs with a 5 V power line, whereas Firewire can supply up
to 30 V.

These and other differences reflect the differing design goals of the
two buses: USB was designed for simplicity and low cost, while
FireWire was designed for high performance, particularly in time-
sensitive applications such as audio and video. Although similar in
theoretical maximum transfer rate, in real-world use, especially for
high-bandwidth use such as external hard-drives, FireWire 400
generally, but not always, has a significantly higher throughput than
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed.[19][20][21][22] The newer FireWire 800 standard is twice
as fast as FireWire 400 and outperforms USB 2.0 Hi-Speed both
theoretically and practically.[23] The chipset and drivers used to
implement USB and Firewire have a crucial impact on how much of
bandwidth prescribed by the specification is achieved in the real world,
along with compatibility with peripherals.[24] Audio peripherals in
particular are affected by the USB driver implementation.[citation needed]

One reason USB supplanted FireWire, and became far more

widespread, is cost; FireWire is more expensive to implement,
producing more expensive hardware.

[edit ] Ver sio n hist or y

[edit ] Pr er el ea ses

Hi-Speed USB Logo


• USB 0.7: Released in November 1994.

• USB 0.8: Released in December 1994.
• USB 0.9: Released in April 1995.
• USB 0.99: Released in August 1995.
• USB 1.0 Release Candidate: Released in November 1995.

[edit ] USB 1.0

• USB1.0:Released in January 1996.

Specified data rates of 1.5 Mbit/s (Low-Speed) and 12 Mbit/s (Full-
Speed). Did not anticipate or pass-through monitors. Few such
devices actually made it to market.
• USB 1.1: Released in September 1998.
Fixed problems identified in 1.0, mostly relating to hubs. Earliest
revision to be widely adopted.

[edit ] USB 2.0

• USB 2.0: Released in April 2000.

Added higher maximum speed of 480 Mbit/s (now called Hi-
Speed). Further modifications to the USB specification have been
done via Engineering Change Notices (ECN). The most important
of these ECNs are included into the USB 2.0 specification
package available from
o Mini-B Connector ECN: Released in October 2000.
Specifications for Mini-B plug and receptacle. These should
not be confused with Micro-B plug and receptacle.
o Errata as of December 2000: Released in December 2000.
o Pull-up/Pull-down Resistors ECN: Released in May 2002.
o Errata as of May 2002: Released in May 2002.
o Interface Associations ECN: Released in May 2003.
New standard descriptor was added that allows multiple
interfaces to be associated with a single device function.
o Rounded Chamfer ECN: Released in October 2003.
A recommended, compatible change to Mini-B plugs that
results in longer lasting connectors.
o Unicode ECN: Released in February 2005.
This ECN specifies that strings are encoded using UTF-
16LE. USB 2.0 did specify that Unicode is to be used but it
did not specify the encoding.
o Inter-Chip USB Supplement: Released in March 2006.
o On-The-Go Supplement 1.3: Released in December 2006.
USB On-The-Go makes it possible for two USB devices to
communicate with each other without requiring a separate
USB host. In practice, one of the USB devices acts as a
host for the other device.
o Battery Charging Specification 1.0: Released in March
Adds support for dedicated chargers (power supplies with
USB connectors), host chargers (USB hosts that can act as
chargers) and the No Dead Battery provision which allows
devices to temporarily draw 100 mA current after they
have been attached. If a USB device is connected to
dedicated charger or host charger, maximum current
drawn by the device may be as high as 1.5 A. (Note that
this document is not distributed with USB 2.0 specification
o Micro-USB Cables and Connectors Specification 1.01:
Released in April 2007.
o Link Power Management Addendum ECN: Released in July
This adds a new power state between enabled and
suspended states. Device in this state is not required to
reduce its power consumption. However, switching
between enabled and sleep states is much faster than
switching between

o enabled and suspended states, which allows devices to sleep while idle.
o High-Speed Inter-Chip USB Electrical Specification Revision 1.0: Released
in September 2007.

[edit] USB 3.0

• USB 3.0 (Future version): On September 18, 2007, Pat Gelsinger demonstrated USB
3.0 at the Intel Developer Forum. USB 3.0 is targeted at ten times the current
bandwidth, reaching roughly 4.8 Gbit/s (600MB/s) by utilizing two additional high-
speed differential pairs for "Superspeed" mode, and with the possibility for optical
interconnect.[25][26] The USB 3.0 specification is planned to be released early in the
second half of 2008,[27] and commercial products are expected to arrive in 2009 or

• Backwards-Compatibility and Efficiency: USB 3.0 is designed to be backwards-

compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 1.1 and employs more efficient protocols to
conserve power.[25]

[edit] Related technologies

The PictBridge standard allows for interconnecting consumer imaging devices. It typically
uses USB as the underlying communication layer.

The USB Implementers Forum is working on a wireless networking standard based on the
USB protocol. Wireless USB is intended as a cable-replacement technology, and will use
ultra-wideband wireless technology for data rates of up to 480 Mbit/s. Wireless USB is well
suited to wireless connection of PC centric devices, just as Bluetooth is now widely used for
mobile phone centric personal networks (at much lower data rates).

Streaming media
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Please help improve this article by introducing appropriate citations of additional sources.

Streaming multimedia is multimedia that is constantly received by, and normally

displayed to, the end-user while it is being delivered by the provider (the term "to
display" is used in this article in a general sense that includes audio playback.) The
name refers to the delivery method of the medium rather than to the medium itself.
The distinction is usually applied to media that are distributed over
telecommunications networks, as most other delivery systems are either inherently
streaming (e.g. radio, television) or inherently non-streaming (e.g. books, video
cassettes, audio CDs). The verb 'to stream' is also derived from this term, meaning
to deliver media in this manner.


• 1 History
• 2 Streaming bandwidth and storage
• 3 Protocol issues

• 4 See also

[edit] History
Attempts to display media on computers date back to the earliest days of
computing, in the mid-20th century. However, little progress was made for several
decades, primarily due to the high cost and limited capabilities of computer

During the late 1980s, consumer-grade computers became powerful enough to

display various media. The primary technical issues with streaming were:

• having enough CPU power and bus bandwidth to support the required data
• creating low-latency interrupt paths in the OS to prevent buffer
underrun[citation needed]

However, computer networks were still limited, and media was usually delivered
over non-streaming channels, such as CD-ROMs.

The late 1990's saw:

• greater network bandwidth, especially in the last mile

• increased access to networks, especially the Internet
• use of standard protocols and formats, such as TCP/IP, HTTP, and HTML
• commercialization of the Internet

These advances in computer networking combined with powerful home computers

and modern operating systems made streaming media practical and affordable for
ordinary consumers. Stand-alone Internet radio devices are offering listeners a "no-
computer" option for listening to audio streams.

In general, multimedia content is large, so media storage and transmission costs are
still significant; to offset this somewhat, media is generally compressed for both
storage and streaming.

A media stream can be on demand or live. On demand streams are stored on a server
for a long period of time, and are available to be transmitted at a user's request.
Live streams are only available at one particular time, as in a video stream of a live
sporting event.

Research in streaming media is ongoing and representative research can be found at

the Journal of Multimedia.

[edit] Streaming bandwidth and storage

Unicast Connections require multiple connections from the same streaming server
even when it streams the same content

Streaming media storage size (in the common file system measurements megabytes,
gigabytes, terabytes, and so on) is calculated from streaming bandwidth and length
of the media with the following formula (for a single user and file):

storage size (in megabytes) = length (in seconds) · bit rate (in kbit/s) /

(since 1 megabyte = 8 * 1,048,576 bits = 8,388.608 kilobits)

Real world example:

One hour of video encoded at 300 kbit/s (this is a typical broadband video for 2005
and it's usually encoded in a 320×240 pixels window size) will be:

(3,600 s · 300 kbit/s) / (8*1024) give around 130 MB of storage

If the file is stored on a server for on-demand streaming and this stream is viewed
by 1,000 people at the same time using a Unicast protocol, you would need:

300 kbit/s · 1,000 = 300,000 kbit/s = 300 Mbit/s of bandwidth

This is equivalent to around 125 GiB per hour. Of course, using a Multicast protocol
the server sends out only a single stream that is common to all users. Hence, such a
stream would only use 300 kbit/s of serving bandwidth. See below for more
information on these protocols.

[edit] Protocol issues

This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone or
You can assist by editing it now. A how-to guide is available. (January 2008)

Designing a network protocol to support streaming media raises many issues, such

• Datagram protocols, such as the User Datagram Protocol (UDP), send the
media stream as a series of small packets. This is simple and efficient;
however, there is no mechanism within the protocol to guarantee delivery. It
is up to the receiving application to detect loss or corruption and recover
data using error correction techniques. If data is lost, the stream may suffer a
• The Real-time Streaming Protocol (RTSP), Real-time Transport Protocol
(RTP) and the Real-time Transport Control Protocol (RTCP) were
specifically designed to stream media over networks. The latter two are built
on top of UDP.
• Reliable protocols, such as the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP),
guarantee correct delivery of each bit in the media stream. However, they
accomplish this with a system of timeouts and retries, which makes them
more complex to implement. It also means that when there is data loss on the
network, the media stream stalls while the protocol handlers detect the loss
and retransmit the missing data. Clients can minimize the effect of this by
buffering data for display.

Multicasting broadcasts the same copy of the multimedia over the entire
network to all clients

Unicast protocols send a separate copy of the media stream from the server
to each client. In terms of difficulty of implementing technically, these
protocols are the most simplistic. At the cost of this simplicity, there can be
massive duplication of the data being sent on the network.

• Multicast protocols were developed to try to cut down on the duplication that
Unicast protocols cause. These protocols send only one copy of the media
stream over any given network connection, i.e. along the path between any
two network routers. Many of these protocols require special routing
hardware capable of broadcasting the stream. These multicasts are one-way
connections which very closely mirror the functionality of over the air
television in that viewers lose their on-demand viewing abilities. Some of
these lost viewing abilities include rewinding and fastforwarding a media file.
There exist streaming media servers which combine Unicast and Multicast
solutions to both cut down on the bandwidth requirements and provide users
most of the on-demand functionality of a pure unicast.[1]
• IP Multicast, the most prominent of multicast protocols, must be
implemented in all nodes between server and client including network
routers. As of 2005, most routers on the Internet however do not support IP
Multicast, and many firewalls block it.[citation needed] IP Multicast is most
practical for organizations that run their own networks, such as universities
and corporations. Since they buy their own routers and run their own
network links, they can decide if the cost and effort of supporting IP
Multicast is justified by the resulting bandwidth savings.
• Peer-to-peer (P2P) protocols arrange for media to be sent from clients that
already have them to clients that do not. This prevents the server and its
network connections from becoming a bottleneck. However, it raises
technical, performance, quality, business, and legal issues.