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What You Should Know About USB Connectors & Cables?

Views: 220     Author: Lydia     Publish Time: 2023-11-30      Origin: Site

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What You Should Know About USB Connectors & Cables?

USB is an abbreviation for Universal Serial Bus.

A "bus" is a circuit layout or communication system that is used to convey data between system components. In this scenario, a "serial" bus sends data one bit at a time over a single cable.

A USB connector, on the other hand, can not only transfer data between components, but also electrical power, and can support a wide range of hardware devices, from printers and keyboards to cell phones and flash drives.

Prior to the invention of the USB protocol, computers used both serial and parallel ports to transfer data, with different devices employing a variety of proprietary plugs, connectors, cables, expansion cards, and drivers. Data transmission rates were modest, with parallel ports averaging around 100 kilobytes (kB) per second and serial ports averaging 115 to 450 kb per second.

The USB 1.0 specification, which debuted in early 1996 after significant work by a consortium of firms, could initially transport data at 1.5 megabits (Mbit) per second at low speed and 12 Mbit per second at full speed. The arrival of USB 2.0 in 2000 at 480 Mbit per second and USB 3.0 in 2008 at 4.8 gigabits per second (Gbps) improved transfer speed even further. USB 3.2, which replaces the 3.1 and 3.0 standards and supports rates of up to 20 Gbps, is now the most widely accessible. The most recent version, USB4, was announced in 2019 and has transmission speeds of up to 40 Gbps. It is steadily being adopted into regular use.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), which has over 700 members, has led and verified the USB standard over the years. The USB-IF's efforts have resulted in a series of standard releases with ever faster specifications throughout the years. Because of the enhanced speed and video resolution provided by a tiny and inexpensive interface, USB ports have become the primary signal transfer technology in use today.

USB C Cable Short

Physical USB Form Factors

USB connectors come in a range of physical form factors and can be used in a variety of applications. These are some examples:

Type A - The first and most ubiquitous USB connector, also known as USB Standard A. It's used to connect peripherals to a host device. Friction holds the flat, rectangular shape in place, making insertion and removal simple. It has a 5 V dc power supply on one of the pins and is compatible with all USB protocols.

Type B connectors are most commonly linked with USB computer peripheral devices. This connector is square in shape with slightly beveled top corners. It is held in place by friction, just as Type A. It was designed to allow peripherals to be linked without the risk of interconnecting two host systems. This connector is still used, but the tiny version is more common.

Type C is the most recent USB interface, having a reversible symmetrical design that allows it to be inserted with either side up and hooked into any USB-C device using either end of the cable. It supports USB 3.2 (formerly 3.1 and 3.0), 2.0, and 1.1 signals and can transport data at up to 20 Gbps with power delivery up to 100 W in either direction (expandable to 240 W with USB PD 3.1) and DisplayPort video and four channel audio. Type C also supports USB4 and Thunderbolt, a hardware interface that allows peripherals to be connected to a computer at data transfer speeds of up to 40 Gbps.

Micro & Mini A&B - As the name suggests, these are smaller form variants of Types A & B connections that offer a physically smaller connection while preserving high speed transfer rates of 480 Mbps and On-The-Go (OTG) characteristics, which allow mobile devices and other peripherals to operate as a USB host.

Type AB - This connector allows both micro A and micro B plugs to connect to a single receptacle type, giving you more options.

Pinouts and kinds of USB connectors

Individual USB connectors can only match with their corresponding male or female connectors. There is no interoperability. While the connectors themselves are common, the enclosures in which they are utilized can vary greatly depending on the application. As a result, IP certified (Ingress Protection) USB connectors have been developed to provide robust protection against solid or liquid penetration into devices used in severe environments.

Most USB cable assemblies include one type of connection on one end and a different type on the other, most often Type A to Type B or Type C. Because Type C is designed to be interchangeable, it is more typical to see Type C on both ends of a cable and will become more common as Type C ports become more generally utilized. USB 3.0 micro B connectors cannot be used with a USB 2.0 micro B socket because they have a bigger connection to accommodate the higher data transmission rate. Devices with USB 3.0 micro B ports, on the other hand, can be mated with older USB 2.0 micro B type male connectors.

Clarifying the differences between micro B and USB 3.0 micro B connectors

Differences between Micro B and USB 3.0 Micro B connectors

Versions of the USB Communication Standard

As previously stated, the USB communication standard defines the data transmission speed, handshake procedures, and power supply specifications between devices. The protocol has evolved significantly over the years, with data transfer speeds ranging from USB 1.0 at 1.5 Mbit per second to USB 3.2 with speeds up to 20 Gbps and now USB4 with speeds up to 40 Gbps. Each new version allows for a fresh round of connection hardware.

USB communication standards are famously confusing due to frequent retroactive naming changes, however USB 3.2 is now the most widely available USB standard that is compatible with both Type A and Type C connectors, albeit it can range from 5 Gbps to 20 Gbps. The 20 Gbps standard is also known as "SuperSpeed USB 20 Gbps" or "USB 3.2 Gen 2x2", whereas the 10 Gbps standard is known as "SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps" or "USB 3.2 Gen 2." Finally, the present 5 Gbps standard is referred to as "SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps" or "USB 3.2 Gen 1." However, earlier naming patterns can be available all over the internet, and it may be best to manually check the speed ratings for the device or connector and use it as a baseline. More information can be found in our blog post, The History of USB Standards from 1.0 to USB4.

However, like with many installations, several versions are frequently used in the same system. When interacting between devices that use a newer USB version and an older version, the older version and speed will be used. This is a software function, although standard compliance is also hardware dependent.

All Type C connectors are USB 3.2 compliant, while some Type C connectors still adhere to older standards. Type A and B are determined by the cable, with differing connection colors often signifying distinct versions for easy identification. When examining the relationship between physical connector standards and communication standards, it is common to become perplexed. This is covered in greater detail in our blog post, USB Type C and USB 3.2 - Clarifying the Connection.

A host was necessary under the original specification. A Type A connector normally indicated the host device, while a Type B connector usually indicated the peripheral. This is not necessary with USB OTG (On The Go). USB OTG is a specification that allows a USB device (such as a smartphone) to function as a host and connect to other USB devices. It essentially allows a USB device to read data from other devices without the need for a computer.

USB Power Delivery Specifications

The USB standard began as a data interface protocol to simplify device interconnectivity, and it also provided some power. It has evolved from a data interface with low power to a substantial power conduit with a data interface. Several devices can now charge or receive power via the link.

The USB Power Delivery (USB PD) standard is the result of a determined effort to standardize power transmission and expand the feature set. Type C USB PD can supply variable voltage up to 20 V and maximum current up to 5 A, with an overall power transmission limit of up to 100 W. Since then, the USB PD 3.1 standard, published in 2021, has increased that power transmission capabilities to 240 W. Furthermore, the power source is no longer fixed, with either the host or the peripheral supplying power. Power management across several peripherals can also be optimized.

To attain these better ratings, USB PD requires a digital device handshake. If the required chips are not present and the handshake fails, the system will fall back to the 5 V/1 A standard. This is agnostic of USB version and type, although the type must support the USB PD specifications. A Type A to Type C cable, for example, that supports versions 2.0 and higher can use PD.

USB Power Delivery Specification Evolution

PD can also function with devices that do not transfer data, instead relying on USB for power. It does, however, necessitate separate communication lines for power negotiation, making it significantly more difficult to design and build than many non-USB formats. This intricacy is offset by the fact that PD develops a charging standard for a wide range of devices, simplifying and streamlining chargers. This can help to reduce e-waste as well as the annoyance of having to use multiple cables for different devices. Read our blog post Introduction to Power-Only USB Type C Connectors for more information.

USB Applications Keep Growing

USB connectors can be utilized in a wide range of applications due to their tiny form factor, ease of design and usage, fast communication speeds, and enhanced power transfer. A partial list of these applications is as follows:

Because data transport isn't required, USB ports can also be used to power devices like rechargeable flashlights, charging pads, and a variety of other portable consumer gadgets.

USB's potential applications continue to expand.

Wireless chargers, game controllers, webcams, headphones, and computer mice are examples of potential USB applications.

The new USB standard's durability and speed are also opening up new uses. It can now be used in industrial applications like as data collecting and monitoring, machine vision, and process control due to improvements in bandwidth, reliability, and power delivery. Basically, any application that consumes 240 W or less of power is a contender for USB power.


USB is an immensely versatile technology that is rapidly approaching near-universal use in applications where data transfer and power are required. USB connectors and cable assemblies combine convenience of use with sensible technical specifications to enable product or system designers to reduce cabling requirements and clutter, reduce footprint, assure backward compatibility, and reduce overall costs. Understanding the possibilities of USB can help designers create products that can be utilized by practically everybody on the planet, whether planning for the future or connecting with older items.

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