USB – Concept, uses, standards and connectors

We explain what USB is and what this universal connection method is for. Also, its various standards and types of connectors.

USB is a standard for electrical and data connection and transmission.

What is USB?

In computing, the terms USB (acronym for Universal Serial Bus, i.e. Universal Serial Bus) or BUS refer to a standard for electrical and data connection and transmission, between computers, peripheral devices and other electronic devices.

This system consists of a communications bus guided by universal serial protocols, cables and connectors, which emerged as a way to universalize the connection of devices to different computer models.

It should be clarified that a bus, in computational architecture, refers to a digital data transmission system between computers and their components, made on a printed circuit with resistors and capacitors, and commonly used in today’s computing.

The USB emerged in 1996 in its version 1.0, as an initiative of Intel, Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, DEC, NEC and Nortel, then incompatible with each other, to standardize the connection ports of their products.

Two years later the 1.1 specification was already in widespread use, and since then its use became the norm, replacing connectors such as the serial port, parallel port, game port, among others.

Currently most peripherals use USB connectors: pointers, flash drives, keyboards, joysticks, scanners, cameras, speakers, cell phones, etc.
This offers endless advantages, beyond extreme compatibility: peripherals can be connected at any time and are instantly recognized, allows the joint transmission of data and electricity, and also enables transmission speeds of up to 1250 Mbps (in its current standard).

What is USB for?

USB allows you to charge the battery of devices by connecting them to a computer.

In principle, USB plays an important role in today’s hypercomputer world: serving as a universal connection method, thus eliminating the need for adapter devices, to attend to the types of connector of a peripheral, and even allowing the rapid transit of information between different types of electronic system.

Also, the USB allows charging the battery of electronic devices, connecting them to a computer, whether or not it is connected to an electrical line.

USB standards

Is named USB standard to the type of connector used for these functions, which has evolved over time, increasing its capabilities and adapting to the needs of new computer hardware. The standards to date are:

  • Standard 1.0. The initial low-speed model that failed to catch on in the year of its release. In its full version (1.1) it offers a transfer rate of up to 1.5 mbps.
  • Standard 2.0. Called high speed, they increased the transfer rate to 480 mbps, using two pairs of cable lines: two for electricity and two for data.
  • Standard 3.0. Considered of super high speed, it allows reaching 600 mbps, since it includes five additional contacts, discarding the traditional optical fiber even though it will be compatible with previous standards. Its most updated version (3.2) was announced in July 2017 and is expected to reach much higher speeds in 2019.

USB connectors

The micro-USB is the smallest version out there.

Within the same USB standard, various types and sizes of connectors are contemplated, that is, of cable terminations. Some of its characteristics, however, vary, in order to vary the polarity and avoid electrical overloads.

  • Type A. The most common arrangement, present in removable memory (flash) drives, is usually medium-sized, flat, and is common in hubs and many peripherals.
  • Type B. Square and elongated in shape, they are often used by large devices, such as printers or scanners.
  • Mini-USB. Often used in digital cameras and other gadgets, it almost always consists of a type B connector.
  • Micro-USB. Present in most smartphones, in its 1.1 / 2.0 and 3.0 variants, it is the smallest version that exists.