USB FAQ



Q1: What is USB?
Q2: Who created USB?
Q3: What kind of peripherals will USB allow me to hook up to my PC ?
Q4: What does USB mean to Host and Peripheral Vendors?
Q5: Where can I get a current copy of the USB specification?
Q6: What are the advantages of working with Intel on USB products?
Q7: Is USB hub functionality available now?
Q8: How can using Intel USB development tools provide advantages for our USB product development effort?
Q9: How can Intel USB solutions accelerate our time-to-market?
Q10: How many USB-compliant PCs can we expect to see on the market?
Q11: Are there USB products out right now?
Q12: What is the USB-IF?
Q13: What are the benefits of USB-IF?
Q14: How do I join USB-IF?
Q15: How do I enable my computer's USB port?
Q16: What versions of Windows* support USB?
Q17: What is the USB Supplement all about?
Q18: What do USB plugs and ports ?
Q19: Will I need special software to run USB?
Q20: Is USB available on mobile computers in addition to desktops?
Q21: What are the best applications for USB?
Q22: What kinds of USB peripherals can I connect to my PC?
Q23: Will traditional PC serial and parallel ports disappear?
Q24: Does USB affect the cost of PCs and peripheral devices?
Q25: How many USB peripherals can I connect at once?
Q26: How many USB products are being developed?
Q27: Where can I find out what USB products are currently available... or on the way?
Q28: Where can I learn more technical details about USB.
Q29: Where can I get more detail data regarding USB.
Q30: Does Windows 98 will fully support USB standard ?
Q31: Any USB-based telecom products already released to market in last 3 months ?


Q1: What is USB?

USB is a peripheral bus specification developed by PC and tecom industry leaders -- Compaq, DEC, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Northern Telecom -- that brings plug and play of computer peripherals outside the box, eliminating the need to install cards into dedicated computer slots and reconfigure the system. Personal computers equipped with USB allow computer peripherals to be automatically configured as soon as they are physically attached - without the need to reboot or run setup. USB also allows multiple devices -- up to 127 -- to run simultaneously on a computer, with peripherals such as monitors and keyboards acting as additional plug-in sites, or hubs.

Q2: Who created USB?

USB was developed by a group of seven companies that saw a need for an interconnect to enable the growth of the blossoming Computer Telephony Integration Industry. The seven promoters of the USB definition are; Compaq, Digital Equipment Corp, IBM PC Co., Intel, Microsoft, NEC and Northern Telecom.

Q3: What kind of peripherals will USB allow me to hook up to my PC ?

You name it: telephones, modems, keyboards, mice, 4x and 6x CD ROM drives, joysticks, tape and floppy drives, scanners and printers. USB's 12 megabit/s data rate also accommodates a whole new generation of peripherals, including MPEG-2 video-based products, data gloves and digitizers. Also, since computer-telephony integration is expected to be a big growth area for PCs, USB can provide an interface for Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and digital PBXs.

Q4: What does USB mean to Host and Peripheral Vendors?

The compatibility of USB is built on the foundation of a technically solid and open specification that meets customer needs for affordable, easily expandable PCs. USB compatibility in turn may enable both suppliers and resellers of PCs, peripherals and software to profit from powerful new marketing methods:

  • Platform packaging" allows logically related hardware and software products to be marketed together.
  • USB can reduce the incompatibility risk associated with bundling PCs, peripherals and software to create specialized turnkey systems that meet the needs of specialized market niches.
  • USB-compliant peripherals may result in offering corporate purchasers and home users more purchasing choices, without fear of system degradation.
  • Resellers may have more flexibility to mix and match selected products and systems in order to stage seasonal promotions and to offer purchase incentives.
  • USB may enable more peripheral suppliers to benefit from the momentum established by PCs based on MMX technology.
  • USB may help suppliers to reduce their development costs which will allow them to establish highly competitive new price points.

Q5: Where can I get a current copy of the USB specification?

The current spec is available for download from the USB Implementers Forum homepage.

Q6: What are the advantages of working with Intel on USB products?

Intel strongly supports USB and the success of our customers. Intel continues to work closely with customers to introduce USB technology in a variety of products, ranging from computer integrated telephony to monitors and input devices. In addition, Intel has the vision to look ahead and to proactively solve potential technology roadblocks.

Q7: Is USB hub functionality available now?

Yes! Intel 8x930Hx USB hub controller samples and production are available now. The new 8x931Hx USB hub controller samples are also available now. The 8x930Hx provides embedded as well as external downstream ports for USB hub peripherals such as monitors.

Q8: How can using Intel USB development tools provide advantages for our USB product development effort?

Intel's USB development tools program is a key link in Intel's end-to-end support for our customers and gets developers off to a running start with their USB designs. The development tools program consists of a comprehensive set of hardware and software products and services, including:

  • Reference designs and technical support services that complement Intel 8x930 USB microcontroller products
  • hardware evaluation boards and software development tools that support USB evaluation and prototyping
  • USB protocol analyzers and emulators that support hardcore debugging
Intel PCI chip sets implement the USB host controller and provide host PC support for USB. Intel provides silicon solutions "on both ends of the wire, " offering our customers an environment for both USB function and application development. To complement this support, developers may select tools from a complete and interoperable tool chain available from Intel and other suppliers. Development Tools are another compelling reason to design with Intel for all of your USB peripheral logic needs.

Q9: How can Intel USB solutions accelerate our time-to-market?

Intel's "end-to-end" USB solutions can help developers implement USB in their products for early prototyping. This in turn allows developers to test "close-to-market-ready" products together with USB-compliant PCs to evaluate user acceptance. Intel provides a variety of development platforms, software tools, and third-party vendor support.

Q10: How many USB-compliant PCs can we expect to see on the market?

Dataquest (5/96) has expressed the opinion that up to 30 million USB-compliant PCs may be shipped during 1997, and that by 1998, all PCs will feature USB technology. Also, based on USR news released data : In fact, DataQuest, April 1997, estimates that USB penetration will reach 100 percent in 1998.(www.3com.com/news news/releases/nov1797c.htm)

Q11: Are there USB products out right now?

Yes. PCs with USB capability started shipping in mid-1996, and the first wave of USB peripherals are on the store shelves today. Products used to design and build USB systems, such as connectors, chipsets and board-level computers are also available.

Q12: What is the USB-IF?

The USB Implementers Forum is a support organization formed by the seven promoters of USB to help speed development of high quality compatible devices using USB.

Q13: What are the benefits of USB-IF?

Please refer to the USB Implementers Forum website for more information.

Q14: How do I join USB-IF?

A membership application can be downloaded from the USB Implementers Forum website .

Q15 : How do I enable my computer's USB port?

Enable the USB port by running your computer's Setup program. In many systems, the Setup program is run by pressing the F1 Key or the Delete key as soon as your computer starts to boot. If you are unsure how to run the system Setup program for your computer, consult the documentation that came with your computer or contact your computer manufacturer.

In the Setup program, locate the USB configuration settings section. This may be found under the Input/Output Ports configuration menu or the Peripheral Setup option. Consult the documentation that came with your computer or contact your computer manufacturer if you need further assistance. Note: There have been some cases where a computer has the physical USB ports, but BIOS does not support them. You'll need to contact your computer manufacturer to upgrade the BIOS.

Q16 :What versions of Windows* support USB?

USB is only supported in Windows 95 OSR2.1 In addition, Microsoft's USB Supplement must be installed. Note: Some of the early Compaq Presario* models that shipped with Windows 95 OSR1 did include USB support via .VXD files.

Q17 : What is the USB Supplement all about?

The USB Supplement is the software required so that Windows 95 will recognize the USB port. If your computer has USB ports, chances are that the USB Supplement has already been installed by your computer manufacturer. You can find out if it is installed by clicking Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs. If you see an entry called USB Supplement to OSR2, then it has been installed. In addition, the version number in the system registry is 4.03.1214 if the USB Supplement has been installed. The registry location is: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\ CurrentVersion\VersionNumber

Q18: What do USB plugs and ports ?

USB features one "Universal" plug type for all USB peripheral-to-PC connections. The distinctive USB plug looks like the same. USB ports found on PCs and on some USB peripherals including keyboards and monitors.

Q19 : Will I need special software to run USB?

No separate software should be needed. USB driver support is built-in to the latest versions of the Windows operating system. You will need a current version of Windows. Most PCs shipping in 1997 feature such an operating system. You can tell if you have the USB-compliant version of Windows installed by using a free USB evaluation utility you can download directly from this site. If you are more technically inclined you can right-click on the "My Computer" icon on the Windows 95 desktop. Then choose "Properties." USB requires version 4.00950B or later.

Q20: Is USB available on mobile computers in addition to desktops?

USB is currently available as a key feature on many notebook computers from leading manufacturers, including Hitachi, NEC, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba. One great advantage of USB is that it allows notebook users to flexibly share peripheral devices.

Q21: What are the best applications for USB?

USB plays a key role in three fast-growing areas: digital imaging, PC-telephony and multimedia games. The presence of USB means that PCs and peripherals will work together, with a high degree of reliability, in these exciting new application areas. USB opens to the door to new levels of innovation and ease of use for input devices, such as the new generation of "force-feedback" digital joysticks.

Q22: What kinds of USB peripherals can I connect to my PC?

USB carries data at the rate of 12 megabits per second, which is sufficient for "medium to low-speed peripherals." This broad category includes telephones, digital cameras, modems, keyboards, mice, digital joysticks, some CD-ROM drives, tape and floppy drives, digital scanners and specialty printers. USB's data rate also accommodates a whole new generation of peripherals, including MPEG-2 video-based products, data gloves and digitizers. Computer-telephony integration is expected to be a big growth area for PCs, and USB can provide an interface for Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and digital PBXs.

Q23: Will traditional PC serial and parallel ports disappear?

While USB will not replace traditional PC ports overnight, it is expected to rapidly become the preferred means of connecting I/O devices (like digital joysticks, for example) as well as "medium-speed" peripherals such as phones, scanners and digital cameras. Higher-speed peripherals, such as mass storage devices, will require connectivity with higher data rates than USB currently provides. PCs will feature USB ports together with these higher-speed connections.

Q24: Does USB affect the cost of PCs and peripheral devices?

USB is a built-in feature of most modern PC chip sets, as well as operating system and other system software. It does not significantly affect PC prices. By eliminating add-in cards and separate power supplies, USB can help make PC peripheral devices more affordable than they otherwise would be. In addition, USB's "hot-swapping" capability allows business users to easily attach and detach peripherals. Device sharing can reduce the cost of ownership of such equipment.

Q25: How many USB peripherals can I connect at once?

Technically, you can connect up to 127 individual USB peripherals at one time. It's interesting to note that just one USB plug must be connected to the USB port on the PC. Other connections may be made on the desktop, using USB ports on hub peripherals.

Q26: How many USB products are being developed?

More than 250 individual USB products are being developed by the industry's leading manufacturers.

Q27: Where can I find out what USB products are currently available... or on the way?

You've come to the right place! This web site will highlight Current USB Products and provide an updated list of new products due for release.

Q28: Where can I learn more technical details about USB.

Technical presentations and other details are available from the USB Implementers Forum web site at www.usb.org/developers, as well as directly from USB-IF member companies.

Q29: Where can I get more detail data regarding USB.

Pls review following web sites, and you can find more details data and future trend of USB :

Q30: Does Windows 98 will fully support USB standard ?

In Microsoft Windows 98 official Preview kit Databook (released from Microsoft Press, Nov-97), there are many articles mention the USB applications. For examples : -Windows 98 include support for USB Hubs, Universal and open host controller inteface and HID (Human Interface Device) Compliany USB devices.

  • Some of the key hardware standards supported by Win98 include Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394,DVD, AGP and ACPI.
  • HID equivalent to legacy input device (like : keyboards, keypads, mice) that are compliant with HID firmware specification are supported by Win98 where connected via the USB.
  • The new WDM (Win32 Driver Model) stream-class support in Win98, providers infrastructure for USB audio and camera devices.

Q31: Any USB-based telecom products already released to market in last 3 months ?

As far as we know, following USB-based modem and telecom products were released to market :

Company Model
3COM/USR USB-based 56K voice faxmodem
AVM USB-based ISDN controller B1
Universal Access USB-based ISDN TA
DrayTek USB-based ISDN TA

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