What is USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0? (Explained)

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What is USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0?

USB 2.0 or Universal Serial Bus 2.0 refers to a particular version of a serial interface that is used to connect and transfer data between different peripheral digital devices and a computer system.

Technically, this is the second generation USB connector standard that is upgraded from the 1.1 and introduced in April 2000 and was most widely used till 2008 when its successor USB 3.0 was launched.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • USB 2.0 is the successor of USB 1.1 and predecessor of USB 3.0 which was widely used from 2000 to 2008 for connecting different digital devices to a computer.
  • This data port is significantly different from USB-C in terms of speed of data transfer speed, in design and even in color.
  • There are different types of connectors available to use such as USB Type A and B, Mini A and B, Micro A and B and each have different capabilities and features.
  • This particular connector comes with several good features such as hot swappability and backward capability which makes it useful to connect more than a hundred different types of devices with a computer system.
  • USB 2.0 can be connected to a USB 3.0 port but the operational speed will be that of 2.0 and not 3.0.

Understanding USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0

What is USB 2.0

USB 2.0 refers to the second generation of Universal Serial Bus standard and is supported by almost all devices and cables with USB capabilities. It was designed to transfer data at a higher speed than the USB 1.1 up to a speed of 480 megabytes per second.

There are different types of USB 2.0 connectors such as:

  • USB Type A – Also known as the USB 2.0 Standard A, technically these connectors are rectangular in shape and are used mostly in the non-mobile devices and are compatible physically with both USB 1.1 and USB 3.0.
  • USB Type B – These connectors are also known as USB 2.0 Standard B and are technically square in shape apart from the small notch at the top. The USB 2.0 Type B plugs are compatible with the USB 1.1 and USB 3.0 Type B receptacles but the USB 2.0 Type B receptacles are not compatible with the USB 3.0 Type B plugs.
  • USB Micro A – These connectors look very much the same as the USB 2.0 Type A connectors, especially the plugs, but just in a miniature form. These plugs are compatible with both USB 2.0 Micro AB receptacles as well as USB 3.0 Micro AB receptacles but the USB 2.0 Micro AB receptacles will not fit well into the newer USB 3.0 Micro A plugs.
  • USB Micro B – These connectors are rectangular in shape and smaller in size with the two corners on one side of it slanted in design rather than a square. The USB 2.0 Micro B plugs will fit into both USB 2.0 as well as in USB 3.0 Micro B and Micro AB receptacles. However, the receptacles of USB 2.0 Micro B will not fit into the newer USB 3.0 Micro B plugs since they are not backward compatible.
  • USB Mini A – These particular connectors are typically rectangular in shape and smaller in size but one side of it is pretty rounded. The USB 2.0 Mini A plugs are however compatible only with USB 2.0 Mini AB receptacles.
  • USB Mini B – These connectors are also rectangular in shape mostly and are smaller in size but have visible indentations on its shorter sides. The USB 2.0 Mini B plugs will fit into the USB 2.0 Mini B and USB 2.0 Mini AB receptacles.
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You should note here that it is only the USB 2.0 ports that support a USB Mini A, USB Mini B, and a USB Mini AB connector.

Looking at it in a different way, the older USB 1.1 standard and cables are compatible physically with USB 2.0 devices for the most part. However, the speed will not be the same.

In order to get the speed offered by USB 2.0, the only way is to make sure that all of the cables and devices support USB 2.0 that are connected to each other.

This means that if you use a USB 2.0 device with a USB 1.0 cable you will get a speed of 1.0 irrespective of the fact that the device is USB 2.0 enabled. This is because the cable will not support faster speeds of the newer cables.

Similarly, when you use a USB 2.0 device and cable with a USB 3.0 device and cable, the device will operate at a lower speed of 2.0 even though both are physically compatible with each other.

This means that when you use a USB 2.0 device with any older technology, the speed will drop down to it, and when you use it with the newer one, it will not be able to pull up the speed of it.

However, the USB 2.0 standard is good enough to support as many as 127 devices at different DTRs or Data Transfer Rates such as:

  • For keyboards, mouse and other devices at a low speed or DTR of 1.5 megabytes per second and
  • At a high speed of up to 480 megabytes per second.
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However, it retained the ‘full speed’ of the older versions of 12 megabytes per second.

This particular standard also comes with a variety of features and some of the most notable ones among them are:

  • Its plug and play integration
  • Ability to move files between devices using less protocol
  • Hot swappable ability and
  • Backward compatibility.

The later models of this USB standard were rolled out with an additional feature High Speed Inter Chip or HSIC.

This is actually a chip to chip substitute and also had the analog transceivers removed which were available in the older versions.

The good thing about the introduction of USB 2.0 and its successive protocols is that it became the common standard to connect different devices with a computer. Add to that, it also resulted in:

  • More flexibility and convenience for the users
  • Lower production of specialized cables and
  • Lesser volumes of electronic waste.

Overall, the USB 2.0 standard is good enough to use in devices that do not have very high data transmission speed requirements.

Uses of USB 2.0

The USB 2.0 data ports are used to connect printers, keyboards, mouse, music players, flash drives and several external devices to the computer.

Some of the most common uses of this data port apart from those mentioned above are:

  • Scanners
  • External hard drives
  • Network adapters
  • Video game consoles
  • Digital cameras
  • New cable boxes
  • Mobile phones and other devices.

Perhaps the most common and convenient use of the USB 2.0 data port is a memory stick that stores data and allows easy transfer of it between several devices.

As said earlier, the USB 2.0 data port can be used in more than a hundred devices to connect them with a computer system and transfer data between them and including all of them in here will really be difficult.

Is USB-C and USB 2.0 Same?

No, it is not. Ideally a USB-C refers to the interface having an entirely different shape than any of the other USB standards whether it is 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 regardless of the fact that it is made and managed by the same companies.

However, being electrically compatible, you can use this port to connect to a USB 3.0 interface safely with the use of an adapter.

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The USB-C port is an interface that is extremely versatile and can function both as a video and an audio connector apart from an interface for power and data.

It is for this reason you will find a USB-C port in a laptop computer that is more convenient to use.

With the use of an adapter, you can make the USB-C connector function like a DVI interface that you usually find on a display screen.

And, the speed of the USB-C is much more than a USB 2.0 being 10 gigabytes per second as opposed to the maximum speed of up to 480 megabytes per second of the latter.

Questions & Answers:

How to Identify USB 2.0 Port?

The USB 2.0 ports are usually black or white in color. Also, if a port is named ‘Universal Host’ as well as an ‘Enhanced Host’ in the Universal Bus Controller tab in the Device Manager, it is a USB 2.0.

What Happens when USB 2.0 is Plugged in USB 3.0 Port?

When you plug a USB 2.0 device in a USB 3.0 port it will work no doubt but the operational speed or the rate of data transfer will be that of the lower technology.

Is USB 2.0 Good?

Yes, USB 2.0 is quite fine if you use drives that do not need exceptionally high speed to transfer data between devices. These ports are good enough for transferring smaller files and will even be fast enough for 1080p with proper support from other involved components of the computer.

Conclusion

The second generation of the Universal Serial Bus 2.0 may be an older technology since you now have USB 3 and USB 4, but it is still good enough to use in smaller devices that do not have very high speed requirements.

With a reasonably high speed of operation you will have your data transferred easily and quite fast.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers. He loves to cook when he is not busy with writing, computer testing and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin