USB 2.0 tries to make the connection

The new version of the standard for connecting peripherals to PCs is expected to get a significant boost once it's integrated into Intel chipsets.

Richard Shim Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Richard Shim
writes about gadgets big and small.
Richard Shim
2 min read
USB 2.0 is starting to connect with peripherals makers.

Since mid-2001, manufacturers have gradually been releasing devices that connect to PCs via USB 2.0 ports. But USB 2.0 is expected to get a significant boost once it is integrated into Intel chipsets by mid-year. In addition, an upcoming wave of products is expected to help establish USB 2.0 as the new dominant standard for connecting peripherals to PCs.

The new version of USB, short for universal serial bus, allows consumers to transfer data from peripherals to PCs dramatically faster than the previous version of the standard, USB 1.1--and slightly faster than its main rival, FireWire.

"In the second quarter, the integration of USB 2.0 into Intel chipsets should broaden our deployment into PCs," USB Implementers Forum Chairman Jason Ziller said Thursday.

Earlier this month, Gateway became the first PC maker to launch computers that support USB 2.0.

Ziller added that the current wave of new peripherals consists mainly of scanners and drives. But once USB 2.0 is integrated into Intel chipsets, consumers should see more digital cameras and printers that use USB 2.0.

Among the new peripherals with USB 2.0:

Addonics Technologies' Pocket CD-rewritable/DVD drive for $399.

Adaptec's four-port USB card, which costs $70 and allows up to four devices to connect to a PC via the card.

LaCie's line of PocketDrive external hard drives that range in capacity and price from its $219 10GB drive to its $669 48GB drive.

Plextor's PlexWriter CD-RW drive for $250.

In addition, Maxtor will release an external hard drive next week.

USB 1.1's transfer rate was 12mbps, while USB 2.0's is 480mbps. USB's main competitor, FireWire, moves information at a rate of 400mbps. The USB 2.0 and FireWire have already been competing to become the dominant standard for connecting peripherals, such as digital cameras, external hard drives and CD-RW drives, to PCs.

FireWire has been viewed as having a head start over USB 2.0, but the latter is making up for lost time. Helping USB 2.0 is the fact that it is backward compatible with USB 1.1, which is more widely deployed than FireWire.

However, Ziller said he believes that FireWire and USB 2.0 can co-exist, with USB 2.0 becoming the dominant standard for connecting peripherals to PCs because of the Intel chipsets and FireWire becoming the main standard for connecting consumer electronics devices to one another.

There is another version of FireWire, known as 1394b, that is in the works. The new standard doubles the speed of FireWire to 800mbps and carries data over longer distances, using fiber-optic cables as well as traditional copper wiring.