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What is USB – Meaning, Types, Memory, and More

What is USB – Meaning, Types, Memory, and More

Meaning – USB

USB responds to the acronym Universal Serial Bus and refers to a connection protocol that allows various peripherals to be linked to an electronic device (often a computer) for data exchange, operations development, and, in some cases, charging the battery of the connected device (s). It is, therefore, basically a port that works as a connection socket between different devices.

Many devices can be connected to a computer thanks to USB. Cameras, mobile phones, mice and keyboards, pen drives, MP4 players, webcams, video cards, mini speakers, printers, DVD recorders, external hard drives, or PDAs are just a few examples.

This protocol was created in the 90s by a group of seven large technology companies (Intel, IBM, Northern Telecom, Compaq, Microsoft, NEC, and Digital Equipment Corporation) with the sole purpose of reaching a standard for the connected peripherals to a computer. While it is true that the first model launched was USB 1.0, the evolutionary technological chain has led it to USB 3.1. We will go into detail on this and other issues below.

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Types of USB standards

USB can be classified into four different standards:

USB 1.0 (low speed)

Created in the mid-90s, the maximum speed at which information could move reached 1.5 Mbps, a sufficient connection for devices such as the mouse and keyboard.

USB 1.1 (full speed)

Increased the transfer rate to 12 mbps.

USB 2.0 (high speed)

It is the most widespread standard and transfers data at 480 Mbps, although its actual maximum rate is 280 Mbps. Its cable has four lines: two for data and two for power.

USB 3.0 (super high speed)

Ten times faster than the previous standard, it reaches speeds of 4.8 Gbps. It is compatible with the previous ones and includes five additional contacts. It lives together with 2.0.

USB 3.1

This standard emerged just a year ago increases the speed for data transfer up to 10 Gbps. Also, it introduces a new type of connector (C), which will be explained in the following lines.

Types of USB Connectors

To homogenize the connection of peripherals to a computer, the seven companies above promoted USB. But, how are the connectors of this protocol? There are various types/forms:

Type A

It is the most recognized by users. It is a flattened rectangle with internal connections. The male type connector is at the end of the cables, while the female type is the port itself.

Type B

This class’s ports and connectors are somewhat smaller (although more comprehensive) than the previous ones. They are generally found on devices such as printers.

Type C

This connector has come from the hand of USB 3.1, and its principal characteristic is that it is reversible. It does not matter from which side it is inserted since it will work in both ways.

Mini USB

There are two modes, 5 and 8 pins, and they are usually found in cameras, external hard drives, or music players, among others.

Micro USB

It is the smallest and flattest of all and is designed for the new smartphones to transmit information through it and charge these devices’ battery through it.

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What is USB Memory?

If we are strict, the USB concept refers to the connection port that we have already explained. However, this term has also been generalized to identify pen drives. The latter contains a flash memory that works as a storage and transport device for data and information.

The pen drive has acted as a substitute for the old floppy disks and CDs, and its use is prevalent. Who doesn’t have a memory stick today? The possibilities are multiple since these devices can be purchased with very different capacities: 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and 512 GB, and up to 1 TB.

The possibilities offered by a USB memory are very varied. They range from the storage of encrypted files to the installation of an operating system from this device through external storage for portable devices and applications.

Components of USB memory

A USB memory basically consists of:
Type A male connector, which is inserted into the computer to enjoy the content stored in memory.

Its mass storage controller, containing a microprocessor and several RAM and ROM memory circuits.
NAND flash memory circuit, which is responsible for storing the data.
A crystal oscillator, which controls the data output.

On the other hand, you can also find other additional components, such as LEDs that indicate the Pen drive activity, a cover to protect the connector, or jumpers and test points used at the time the unit is manufactured.

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