Nowadays, the Universal Serial Bus or more commonly known as USB has become a staple item used in homes, in schools, and in offices. The USB cable was introduced during the mid-1990s to improve the connection, communication, and power supply between computers and electronic devices. The USB is designed to set the standard for cables, connectors, and communication protocols of computer peripherals. It is also used to connect and transfer files and data from smartphones, PDAs, videogame consoles, and other electronic gadgets. Since its introduction to the market, it has replaced the earlier interface serial ports and parallel ports.
There have been different versions of USB Cables that are released since its development: USB 1.0, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0. The USB 1.0 version was released in 1996 with speed rate of 1.5 Mbits/s to 12 Mbits/s. Its maximum length is about 3 meters only. The cable has timing and power limitation so extension cables were not allowed. Having problems and because of its limitations, updated versions like the USB 1.1 version was made available later on.
The USB 2.0 Version was made public in April 2000, with better features and faster speed. It is considered as the “hi-speed” with speed of up to 480 Mbits/s. It uses the polling mechanism in signaling method that allow it to either receive or send data, or also called half duplex. It uses power up to 500 mA and has 4 wires within its cable: 2 wires for data and 2 for power. The Standard-A connector of USB 2.0 is usually gray in color while its Standard-B connector is smaller in size. Each USB 2.0 cable is normally 5 meters in length. To enhance the performance of USB 2.0, modifications were made using the Engineering Change Notices (ECN). Some of these revisions are the release of Mini-A and Mini-B Connector ECN in October 2000, the issuance of Pull-up/Pull-down Resistors ECN in May 2002, the introduction of the Inter-Chip USB Supplement 1.3 in December 2006, the announcement of the USB On-the-Go Supplement 1.3 in December 2006, and the announcement of Micro-USB Cables and Connectors Specifications 1.01 in July 2007.
The USB 3.0 is the latest version of USB cables that is available in the market. It provides faster speed and better functionality than what the USB 2.0 could offer—with a super speed of 4.8 GB per second that is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. Thus, transferring of data and backing up of files can be done in less time.
Aside from speed, the 3.0 version of USB Cables allows reading and writing of data between two connected devices can be done simultaneously. This is because the 3.0 version uses the asynchronous mechanism signaling method that allows it to send and receive data, also known as full duplex. This version also consumes less power, at 900mA, allowing better power efficiency. Another great feature of USB 3.0 is its capability to provide power to more devices from one hub. Another improvement introduced in the USB 3.0 cable is its having 9-10 wires within its cable. Two of these wires are used for power. Another wire (called Unshielded Twisted Pair or UTP) is used for high-speed and lower data transfer. This wire also allows backward compatibility for the older versions of USB. Two wires, called Shielded Differential Pairs (SDPs), contain three wires each in which two are used for signal transmission while the other one is a drain wire. Another two SDPs are added for transferring super speed data that allows the simultaneous transferring of data. Its standard-A connectors are usually available in blue color, while standard-B connectors have extra space for more wires. Generally, the USB 3.0 offers better performance and speed and provides better battery life for devices that uses the USB 3.0 technology. As of January 2013, an improved version of USB 3.0 was released to the market and was known as the USB 3.1.