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Universal Serial Bus Overview

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Setting the industry standard

Intel® Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a set of connectivity specifications developed in collaboration with industry leaders. Originally released in 1995 at just 12 megabits per second (Mbps), USB allows easy, high-speed connections of peripherals to PCs that, once plugged in, configure automatically.

Today, with a run rate of 3 billion USB products shipped into the growing market every year, USB operates at up to five gigabits per second (Gbps) and is found in over ten billion PCs, consumer electronics, and mobile devices.

USB is the most successful interconnect in the history of personal computing, and has migrated into consumer electronics (CE) and mobile products, creating an ease of use that was previously unheard of.

USB today

Today, SuperSpeed USB 3.0 provides the highest standard in USB performance—up to 10 times faster than High-Speed USB 2.0, with a design data rate of five Gbps. In addition, SuperSpeed USB dramatically reduces the power necessary to transfer large amounts of data.

This latest version of USB retains full backward compatibility with previous generations, so existing platforms and devices will plug-and-play equally well with newer platforms and devices that support SuperSpeed USB.

Portable devices such as handhelds, cell phones, and digital cameras that connect to PCs as USB peripherals benefit from having additional capabilities to connect to other USB devices directly using USB On-The-Go (OTG) technology.

Industry collaboration

Intel formed the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) in 1995 as a non-profit corporation with other industry players to support and accelerate the adoption of USB-compliant peripherals.

Today, the USB-IF has over 700 member companies worldwide and its board of directors includes representatives from:

  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Intel Corporation
  • LSI Corporation
  • Microsoft Corporation
  • Renesas Electronics Corporation
  • ST-Ericsson

The forum facilitates the development of high-quality compatible USB peripherals, and promotes the benefits of USB products that have passed compliance testing.

Wireless USB

Wireless USB is the wireless extension to USB that combines the speed and security of wired technology with the portability and clutter-free convenience of wireless technology. This wireless connectivity has enabled a convenient mobile lifestyle for mobile computing users.

Supporting robust high-speed wireless connectivity, wireless USB utilizes the common WiMedia* Ultra-Wideband (UWB) radio platform developed by the WiMedia Alliance.

USB in the future

When the SuperSpeed USB architecture was originally developed, requirements for future performance increases were factored into the solution.

Recent demands for even higher performance storage applications, video display, and USB hub and docking applications have identified a need to begin development of the next higher-speed version of SuperSpeed USB. This enhancement to USB technology is expected to double the existing SuperSpeed USB from 5 Gbps to 10 Gbps while retaining compatibility with all prior versions of USB. The specification for this is expected to be published by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) around the middle of 2013, and initial end-user products based on this update specification are likely to appear in the market in the latter half of 2014.

Industry standards and events

Intel continues to contribute to the standards that drive the industry, including:

Intel and 802.11 >

PCI Express* >

Digital Home >

Ethernet >

For information regarding upcoming events, documentation, products, compliance, and much more, visit the USB Implementers Forum website.

Find out about upcoming events >