Universal Serial Bus (USB)
Definition – What does Universal Serial Bus (USB) mean?
A Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a common interface that enables communication between devices and a host controller such as a personal computer (PC). It connects peripheral devices such as digital cameras, mice, keyboards, printers, scanners, media devices, external hard drives and flash drives. Because of its wide variety of uses, including support for electrical power, the USB has replaced a wide range of interfaces like the parallel and serial port.
A USB is intended to enhance plug-and-play and allow hot swapping. Plug-and-play enables the operating system (OS) to spontaneously configure and discover a new peripheral device without having to restart the computer. As well, hot swapping allows removal and replacement of a new peripheral without having to reboot.
How USB Ports Work
Just about any computer that you buy today comes with one or more Universal Serial Bus connectors. These USB connectors let you attach mice, printers and other accessories to your computer quickly and easily. The operating system supports USB as well, so the installation of the device drivers is quick and easy, too. Compared to other ways of connecting devices to your computer (including parallel ports, serial ports and special cards that you install inside the computer’s case), USB devices are incredibly simple.
Everything You Need to Know
The Universal Serial Bus standard has been extremely successful. USB ports and cables are used to connect hardware such as printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, flash drives, external hard drives, joysticks, cameras, and more to computers of all kinds, including desktops, tablets, laptops, netbooks, etc.
In fact, USB has become so common that you’ll find the connection available on nearly any computer-like device such as video game consoles, home audio/visual equipment, and even in many automobiles.
Many portable devices, like smartphones, eBook readers, and small tablets, use USB primarily for charging. USB charging has become so common that it’s now easy to find replacement electrical outlets at home improvement stores with USB ports built it, negating the need for a USB power adapter.
There have been several major USB standards, USB4 being the newest:
USB4: Based on the Thunderbolt 3 specification, USB4 supports 40 Gbps (40,960 Mbps).
USB 3.1: Called Superspeed+, USB 3.1 compliant devices are able to transfer data at 10 Gbps (10,240 Mbps).
USB 3.0: Called SuperSpeed USB, USB 3.0 compliant hardware can reach a maximum transmission rate of 5 Gbps (5,120 Mbps).
USB 2.0: Called High-Speed USB, USB 2.0 compliant devices can reach a maximum transmission rate of 480 Mbps.
USB 1.1: Called Full Speed USB, USB 1.1 devices can reach a maximum transmission rate of 12 Mbps