New technologies pushing USB to the junk yard

Although USB beat preceding technologies on speed, flexibility, and cost among others, it is now coming under attack and may be headed to the junk yard. Photo/FILE
Although USB beat preceding technologies on speed, flexibility, and cost among others, it is now coming under attack and may be headed to the junk yard. Photo/FILE 

Computer is one of the most important electronic devices in information sharing; however, it can be almost useless without components.

The communication with external devices is done via openings (ports), which are the computer.

They are located at the back, front or both sides of the computer. These ports have been evolving to fit the needs of the user such as the speed of data transfer and flexibility.

These ports include serial ports which suffered low transfer rate and required device drivers for each device, parallel ports which preceded the serial ports though they suffered the same limitations except the latter having faster data transfer rate, video graphic array (VGA) ports for display, that is projectors and monitors, universal serial bus (USB) ports among others.

The USB port is a universal port for connecting different devices.

Although USB beat preceding technologies on speed, flexibility, and cost among others, it is now coming under attack and may be headed to the junk yard.

Having dominated the market and the mind of many for the past few years, the universal serial bus (commonly known as USB) may no longer do so for long. This is due to the rising of other better and efficient technologies in enhancing communication.

Computer components

USB port is a technology used to connect electronic devices and computer components.

These range from the simple electronic devices such as radios and DVD players to complex computer components and peripheral devices such as flash drives, modems and large scale printers in the distributed systems.

Its dominance in the market rose due to its high speed in data transfer which moves up to 480 megabytes per second (USB 2.0) and the expected USB 3.0 with 4.5 gigabytes per second as compared to the earlier ports whose transfer rate was in terms of bytes per second.

Two, its plug-and-play nature enables USB to be appreciated by many users due to simple connection unlike the earlier versions that required installations with respective software before functioning.

Other than being small in size, the USB port can be expanded using hubs to host as many as 127 devices as compared to the earlier ports which were single-device connectors.

However, the above advantages may no longer hold due to the rise of other technologies like Bluetooth, Thunderbolt, Fire-wire among others.

As compared to USB, Thunderbolt has a higher data transfer rate of up to 10 gigabytes per second (10 GB/s) while that of USB is up to 480 megabytes per second (USB version 2.0 and the expected version 3.0 with a speed of 4.5 gigabytes per second).

Thunderbolt covers a longer distance of 100 metres compared to the five metres of the USB.

It also offers visual display connections which are not available with the USB. Thunderbolt combines the PCI Express and Visual Display in one cable, reducing the size of the cable with a significant rate.

Bluetooth is wireless hence does not need cables and reduces the cost of purchasing cables and reducing the space used.

Bluetooth operates within a distance of five metres (weak devices) up to a distance of 10 metres (strong devices) while USB operates at a distance of five metres for majority of devices.

USB limits the number of devices connected to the host computers which is not the case with the Bluetooth technology (synchronisation).

Fire-wire handles more data than USB, particularly audio and visual information. The Fire-wire 800 series has a data transfer rate of 800 megabytes per second as compared to the current USB 2.0 transfer rate of 480 megabytes per second.

The operating distance of Fire-wire 800 series is up to 100 metres which is incomparable with that of USB covering five metres.

Fire-wire can implement peer-to-peer communication; two Fire-wire devices can communicate to each other without going through a host-computer which is not the case with the USB technology.

Data transfer

From the above, it is clear that the USB will pave the way for these technologies, therefore, it is not recommended for organisation and individuals to invest heavily in USB-enabled devices as the technology will be obsolete in few years.

Currently, some mice, DVD players, digital cameras and printers are Bluetooth-enabled replacing the former serial and USB ports.

Fire-wire has enabled use of cameras, video editing, and external hard discs due to its high data transfer rate, the concern of many individuals and firms today and the near future.

Some companies such as Apple have introduced computers and iPods that have Thunderbolt ports instead of USB.