Glossary definition of Universal Serial Bus

Also known as: USB

Universal Serial Bus The universal serial bus (USB) is a cable communication standard that allows various diverse devices to be connected and communicate. USB is a Plug n Play technology-i.e. no drivers need to be installed to use devices connected over a Universal Serial Bus-and caught on in the mainstream after PnP was introduced in the mid 90s.

USB also allows power to be supplied in the same cable as data-an early example of the usefulness of this feature was the advent of speakers that required no external power. These speakers also incorporated the hardware for producing sounds and decoding MIDI, and required no drivers. USBs power transfer can also be used to recharge battery powered devices such as mobile phones and MP3 players.

There are two major versions of the Universal Serial Bus specification-USB 1.0 and USB 2.0. Amongst other things such as better power management and higher signal integrity, USB 2.0 has a data transfer rate of 20 Mbps which is a vast improvement over the 1.2 Mbps of USB 1.0.