Intel Corporation announced this week that the upcoming Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 standard, which will be launched sometime in 2000, will be much faster than initially expected, exceeding the current version by some 30 to 40 times. USB 1.1, the current standard, runs at about 10 Mbs (Megabits per second), which is fairly slow, especially when you overload the bus with more than a few devices. The initial specification for USB 2.0 called for speeds of 120 to 240 Mbs, but Intel and other members of the USB 2.0 Promoter Group have bumped the speed to 360 to 480 Mbs.

USB is designed to replace external connectors on PCs, such as PS/2 ports, serial ports, and parallel ports, which bog down otherwise modern PC designs. The release of Windows 98, and the forthcoming release of Windows 2000, have spurned an industry of devices based on the current version of USB, such as low-end external storage, Web cameras, scanners, and the like. But USB is hampered by power consumption and signal strength problems, as more and more devices are daisy chained off of a USB port on the computer. The increased bandwidth in USB 2.0 will permit more devices as well as faster external storage devices to be added to modern PC systems.

"This achievement on USB 2.0 will further build the great momentum of USB into even more demanding user applications, such as image creation and interactive gaming, and provide an effective upgrade path for today's USB peripherals," said Pat Gelsinger, vice president and general manager of the Desktop Products Group at Intel.

USB 2.0 will be fully backwards compatible with USB 1.1 devices. Systems that feature USB 2.0 ports are expected sometime in 2000.

For more information about USB, please visit the Universal Serial Bus Web site