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A Quick Plug

The next generation of USB

While most businesses are still slowly waving goodbye to serial ports and serial peripherals, USB is already moving on to its next-generation form. The current standard, USB 1.1, is found in 99 percent of PCs presently shipping, according to Cahners InStat Group. But expect USB 2.0 to arrive in force in the coming months.

The main difference between the two generations is speed. USB 1.1 operates at a speed of 12Mbps, while USB 2.0 hits up to 480Mbps. Loosely translated, USB 2.0 peripherals are capable of working about 40 times faster. That's good news for digital video, video-conferencing and speedy printing. Expect increased speed from all kinds of USB peripherals, including external drives, scanners and digital cameras.

All the best features we know and love about our current USB will remain. Devices will still be hot-swappable, meaning no pesky process of shutting your PC down to unplug or plug in. Even the cables and connections will look the same. Simultaneous multiple high-speed devices will also be supported. Move over, SCSI.

Now that we're finally getting used to USB in the first place, are we going to have to throw away our old USB 1.1 devices? Fortunately, USB 2.0 is backward-compatible. You won't have to replace anything in order to function with the new specs and hardware. Visit the official USB Implementers Forum site at to keep tabs on the latest developments.

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This story appears in the February 2001 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »