The Universal Serial Bus (USB) is a standard for peripheral devices. It began development in 1994 by a group of seven companies: Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Nortel. USB was intended to make it fundamentally easier to connect external devices to PCs by replacing the multitude of connectors at the back of PCs, addressing the usability issues of existing interfaces, and simplifying software configuration of all devices connected to USB, as well as permitting greater bandwidths for external devices. The first silicon for USB was made available by Intel in 1995.
The USB 1.0 specification was introduced in January 1996. The original USB 1.0 specification had a data transfer rate of 12 Mbit/s. The first widely used version of USB was 1.1, which was released in September 1998. It allowed for a 12 Mbps data rate for higher-speed devices such as disk drives, and a lower 1.5 Mbps rate for low bandwidth devices such as joysticks.
The USB 2.0 specification was released in April 2000 and was standardized by the USB-IF at the end of 2001. Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Lucent Technologies (now Alcatel-Lucent following its merger with Alcatel in 2006), NEC and Philips jointly led the initiative to develop a higher data transfer rate, with the resulting specification achieving 480 Mbit/s, a fortyfold increase over 12 Mbit/s for the original USB 1.0. data. USB supports the following signaling rates:
A low-speed rate of 1.5 Mbit/s (~183 KB/s) is defined by USB 1.0. It is very similar to "full-bandwidth" operation except each bit takes 8 times as long to transmit. It is intended primarily to save cost in low-bandwidth human interface devices (HID) such as keyboards, mice, and joysticks.
The full-speed rate of 12 Mbit/s (~1.43 MB/s) is the basic USB data rate defined by USB 1.1. All USB hubs support full-bandwidth.
A high-speed (USB 2.0) rate of 480 Mbit/s (~57 MB/s) was introduced in 2001. All hi-speed devices are capable of falling back to full-bandwidth operation if necessary; they are backward compatible. Connectors are identical.
A SuperSpeed (USB 3.0) rate of 4800 Mbit/s (~572 MB/s). The written USB 3.0 specification was released by Intel and partners in August 2008. The first USB 3 controller chips were sampled by NEC May 2009 and products using the 3.0 specification arrived beginning in January 2010. USB 3.0 connectors are generally backwards compatible, but include new wiring and full duplex operation. There is some incompatibility with older connectors. FireWire
The IEEE 1394 interface is a serial bus interface standard for high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer, frequently used by personal computers, as well as in digital audio, digital video, automotive, and aeronautics applications. The interface is also known by the brand names of FireWire (Apple), i.LINK (Sony), and Lynx (Texas Instruments). IEEE 1394 replaced parallel SCSI in many applications, because of lower implementation costs and a simplified, more adaptable cabling system. The 1394 standard also defines a backplane interface, though this is not as widely used. FireWire 400 (IEEE 1394-1995)
The original release of IEEE 1394-1995 specified what is now known as FireWire 400. It can transfer data between devices at 100, 200, or 400 Mbit/s half-duplex data rates FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b-2002)
IEEE 1394b-2002 introduced FireWire 800 (Apple's name for the 9-circuit "S800 bilingual" version of the IEEE 1394b standard) This specification and corresponding products allow a transfer rate of 786.432 Mbit/s full-duplex via a new encoding scheme termed beta mode. It is backwards compatible to the slower rates and 6-circuit alpha connectors of FireWire 400. FireWire S1600 and S3200
In December 2007, the 1394 Trade Association announced that products would be available before the end of 2008 using the S1600 and S3200 modes that, for the most part, had already been defined in 1394b and was further clarified in IEEE Std. 1394-2008. The 1.6 Gbit/s and 3.2 Gbit/s devices use the same 9-circuit beta connectors as the existing FireWire 800 and will be fully compatible with existing S400 and S800 devices. It will compete with the forthcoming USB 3.0.P.S. This did not happen ! Comparison with USB
Although current high-speed USB 2.0 (introduced in 2001) is quoted as running at a higher signaling rate (480Mbps) than legacy FireWire 400 (400 Mbps, available since 1995), data transfers over S400 FireWire interfaces generally outperform similar transfers over USB 2.0 interfaces. Few if any USB 2.0 device implementations are able to saturate the entire 480 Mbps, but this can be achieved with multiple devices on the same bus. Typical USB PC hosts rarely can sustain transfers exceeding 280 Mbit/s, with 240 Mbit/s being more typical. This is likely due to USB's reliance on the host processor to manage low-level USB protocol, whereas FireWire delegates the same tasks to the interface hardware (requiring less or no CPU usage). For example, the FireWire host interface supports memory-mapped devices, allowing high-level protocols to run without loading the host CPU with interrupts and buffer-copy operatio
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