June 18, 2003

USB <insert number here>

Posted in General at 5:35 pm by Ian

Saw this on slashdot, and it’s just too funny not to pass on to y’all. Apparently, the USB people decided to change the name of one of their standards. Here, in a nutshell, is what happened: USB 1.1, which is the old (slow 12 Mbps) standard, will henceforth be known as USB 2.0. USB 2.0, which is the new (faster 480 Mbps), will also henceforth be known as USB 2.0. A quote from the article:

To help the public grasp this subtle distinction USB 2, which was the old USB 1.1, would have “Full Speed” added to its title and USB 2, which was USB 2, would have “Hi-Speed” added.

Ah. To help the public.

Riiiiigght.

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8 Comments »

  1. nikhil said,

    Aye, Aye, Captain! Full Speed Ahead!

    (boat drifts listlessly)

  2. Philip said,

    I happen to be working in a group at Intel that was one of the primary forces in enabling USB 2.0. They are not, however, involved with the wonderful politics of naming things.

    Anyway, the speed of a device can be Low (1.5 Mbps), Full (12 Mbps), or High (480 Mbps). Any device designed now will be designed for USB 2.0 compatibility (even though USB 1.1 devices all work on USB 2.0 and vice versa) However, it isn’t desirable for every device to run at High-speed… a mouse or keyboard for instance, so those devices, while they are technically correct to be called USB 2 devices, are still low-speed. My understanding is that a USB 2.0 device on a USB 2.0 port does enable a few extra features that are not required for operation, but help in some way if they are used. (Efficiecy or something.)

    I’m not sure how correct the rest of the article is, but I did find at least one error in it:

    “It was nearly as fast as Firewire at 480Mbps, and it was the way forward.”

    As it turns out, firewire is only 400 Mbps, so I would tend to go a bit further than to say that it is nearly as fast. Then again, I’m not sure there are yet any devices on the market that are implemented efficiently enough to even hit that 400 Mbps.

    Oh, and since this is a post of a somewhat technical nature I think I’m legally required to add something like this:

    The views expressed in this post reflect only upon the individual and are not intended to be representative of Intel Corperation.

  3. Ian said,

    Well. There you have it, right from the horse*’s mouth (as it were). I still have a few bones to pick with this:

    First, the issue is obviously not with things such as keyboards and other low-bandwidth items. They can, of course, be USB 2, but have no need to use the full bandwidth available (unless the user is on some very powerful stimulants). The issue is that motherboards and peripherals that would benefit from the full (or, in this case, “high”) speed of USB 2 are being shipped as USB 2, when they cannot, in fact, use the high speeds of which USB 2 is capable.

    Second, if the naming system was not designed with the main goal of completely misleading the average consumer, they need to fire some people. I mean, come on! “full” speed is slower than “high” speed? Doesn’t “full” imply, like, “all the way.” How could something be more than “full.” It’s clearly so they can sell devices rated at “Full Speed USB 2” to unsuspecting people who expect that this thing might be capable of using the full speed of USB 2.

    I seem to recall something like this with Floppys, back in the day. Quick, without already knowing, which disk would store more: A “high” density disk, or a “double” density disk. I’m pretty sure it’s “high,” because the “double” was actually doubling something earlier. But how the hell would you know that!? It’s even worse with “Full” and “High.”

    * Note that these are the opinions of this rider only, and do not reflect the position of any caretakers, herdsmen, or related horses. The horse could not be reached for comment)

  4. Philip said,

    Well the issue with Full speed is that it WAS the fastest speed back in the USB 1.1 spec. It cooresponded to the 12 Mbps. Now that there is a faster standard, it’s a stupid name, but changing the names of things to make more sense in relation to newer names never seems to happen.

  5. Lisa said,

    Wow… I was all excited that there were four comments, four long comments too. “This will occupy and amuse me for at least several minutes!” thought I. Then I realized that it was intensely boring, and decided to leave a nasty comment instead.

  6. Lisa said,

    Wow… I was all excited that there were four comments, four long comments too. “This will occupy and amuse me for at least several minutes!” thought I. Then I realized that it was intensely boring, and decided to leave a nasty comment instead.

  7. mama said,

    Ah, as part of the said public, I would lke to say that I am certianly assisted by this news! ????!!!?!?!?!?!?!

  8. Ian said,

    Two nasty comments, it seems. 😦


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