Universal Serial Bus (USB) promises a universal interface for PC and workstation peripherals, eliminating the need for I/O devices such as serial and parallel, keyboard and mouse, and joystick and monitor. Its hot-plug capabilities allow end users to add peripherals to their systems without rebooting. USB offers a bandwidth of 12 Mbps, and recognizes up to 127 different addresses. End users will be able to add up to 127 different peripherals to their systems using USB hubs.
Today, USB is being implemented in PC motherboards, but software compliance issues are postponing the use of USB in peripheral systems. USB is supported by specific chipsets on Pentium processor host PC systems and software device drivers in Windows 95 and 98 operating systems. To take advantage of USB's hot-plug capabilities, the chips in peripheral systems must interoperate with the host PC operating system to ensure automatic recognition by the software drivers.
The industry will begin to see widespread availability in communications devices such as cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDA), which will offer USB connectivity to allow the download of e-mail between device and PC. Digital cameras will offer USB connectivity to allow transfer of graphics files. Web TV systems will also begin to offer USB ports so that end users can use peripherals with a PC.
Peripheral manufacturers will begin to implement USB simultaneously to meet end-user demand. An important strategy for these manufacturers will be to choose an interconnect partner that has established USB component manufacturing in their area. This will help manufacturers keep their interconnect costs even lower as they get on board with this new technology.
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