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USB 2.0 For Linux 255

Posted by Hemos
from the plug-and-play-away dept.
SilentTone writes: "PCWorld is reporting that USB 2.0 or high speed USB will be hitting Linux first half 2002. Intel is already providing space on its Pentium 4 motherboard for the USB 2.0 controller. With a transfer rate of 480Mbps (more than firewire's 400Mbps) it seems promising." Update: 09/04 23:02 PM GMT by H : So, somewhere between my preview and going live, I seem to have "lost" the link - if you find it, please post below. I'm looking - in the meantime, this is a good Linux and USB tutorial, and Blue Cat Linux is supporting USB 2.0. HA! Found it - story updated.
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USB 2.0 For Linux

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  • Doh (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    400mbps.

    400 millibaud!!! Damn that's slow!
  • But what (Score:2, Funny)

    by AirLace (86148)
    will Linux driver developers reverse engineer if there are no Microsoft Windows USB2.0 drivers [cnet.com]?
  • by dew (3680) <david@w[ ]ly.org ['eek' in gap]> on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @06:36PM (#2253393) Homepage Journal
    At Fry's Electronics here in Silicon Valley, low-cost USB 2.0 PCI controllers have been on the shelves for well over a month now. Funny thing is, I haven't seen any devices on the shelves that could speak 2.0. Maybe I just didn't happen to see them, but it seems that we might run into the kind of time-delay catch-22's that plagued the original USB: it wasn't important to get a USB board or have USB-support because there weren't any peripherals, and there wasn't any impetus to manufacture USB peripherals, since the install base of computers with USB controllers was small. So USB took quite some time to actually achieve widespread penetration. The same fate may befall 2.0; it may be at least a year before 2.0 is truly compelling. In the interim, Firewire will do quite well. (It's more widespread and is also a more interesting, peered protocol with QOS-like features.)

    At any rate, Linux support for these next-generation devices is still important; better for it to come sooner (before it's popular) than later (at which point people wonder why Linux is lagging behind).

    • The nice thing about the transition from USB to USB2 is that devices are compatable. You can run USB2 devices through a USB interface (albeit at lower speeds). I don't think that the incubation period is going to be as long this time.

      Then again, what the hell do I know? =o)
    • Funny thing is, I haven't seen any devices on the shelves that could speak 2.0.

      Maybe they've been shipping them all to their new (just opened this past weekend) store in Austin? I saw 'em there, but I'm already sold on Firewire as the better technology. Hell, even Intel is hedging their bets and getting 1394 into their chipsets.

    • Actually the problem with acceptance of the original USB was lack of OS support. USB-equipped motherboards were available for quite some time, but Win95 and WinNT had extremely poor or no support respectively. I don't think USB devices took off until Win98 and then the iMac came out. As for Linux, well I love it and I use it, but it's probably fair to say that the USB support in 2.2 had little influence on the number of USB devices that were manufactured.

      My $0.02, anyway.
    • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @08:10PM (#2253737)
      I bought in January of '97 a Tyan Tomcat motherboard with a P75 chip, it had a USB port. The spec changed and USB was busted, so they relabeled the parts (and replaced the motherboards if you complained enought).

      The problem wasn't motherboards. By mid-97 all machines had the ports. Every machine my high school picked up that year (first half of 97) were P133s-P166s and had USB ports. These were Dell computers with vanilla mobos.

      The problem was originally software support, MS didn't support USB until Win98, the Win95 support was busted. Additionally, the market for mice and keyboards died around then. The computers shipped with them AND the market was only supporting $20 replacements, not the highend ones that were popular through 96 and early 97.

      Without software support, there was no interest in the hardware. People were pushing parallel port solutions instead. The parallel port scanners, zip drives, etc., dominated the low-end, and SCSI still ruled the high end.

      Apple made USB a reality. They used it to replace ADP when they needed something to replace the external SCSI-1 port they used for expansion forever. With their move to IDE hard drives, the SCSI port was rediculous.

      Anyone selling addons for Apple built them as USB devices, including mice and keyboards. As the standard was the same, there was no reason to not write Win98 drivers and open up the PC market.

      Apple's ability to make something a standard on a segment of the industry is powerful. While Dell and Compaq (soon to be HP) ship lots of machines, nobody is interested in a Dell-only or Compaq-only option on the consumer level. The PC world is commodity only now, so only MS/Intel can add things to the standard. There is no room for vendors to improve the experience, since we scream and yell that it is propriatary.

      USB 2.0 is a bad hack. If you don't use a USB 2.0 hub, then any USB 1 device (which keyboards, mice, scanners, etc., should always remain) drops the whole thing to USB 1. In addition, the bus is split up, so the 480 MB theoretical is a real joke. The bus uses time slices, not bandwidth slices. So when the keyboard and mouse grab their fractions of a second, they take bandwidth that could go to the video camera.

      Furthermore, Firewire 2.0 brings Firewire up to 800 MB, and its reality is much closer to the theory.

      OTOH, I agree that it is good for Linux to support it. As Linux distributions/kernels in the wild don't get upgraded as often, having the support now means that in 2 years, everyone will have it. Better to have the software beat the hardware.

      Adding support in Windows is more user-painless (insert CD, press setup, watch this application you got from a no-name vendor to save $3 overrights basic operating system files...) then Linux, so it is good to see Linux beat the curve.

      Alex
    • The Iomega Predator and a CDRW drive made by Plextor are both out. With the old USB controllers they worked, but were limited in speed. Now they're basically IDE speed drives.

      The controllers just came out like 2 months ago. I think Belkin or Orange Micro was first and then Adaptec.

      Devices:
      Where are the internal USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 devices? I know we have "Firewire" camcorders. Where are the drives with a NATIVE 1394/USB 2.0 interface? Why is there an adpater from IDE slapped on if 1394/USB is so freaking great? Why not go native?

      Mucho kudos to the programmers that did the work on Linux USB 2.0. I'll see it someday. Right now Linux is my server and Windows is my client. I'm not sure what would make me throw a USB 2.0 card in that machine?

      I still don't see the missing link. It's way too early for April fools. It's a bad mood kind of day.

    • Que! makes a variant of their USB CD-RW drive that uses USB 2.0.

      Of course if they ever get that piece of junk to do 4X sustained writes, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
    • The USB 2.0 PC cards may have been on the shelves, but they did not come with drivers. Only a couple manufacturers are releasing drivers now, and those arrived just a few weeks ago. It's kinda hard to develop, debug & release a device when the software isn't there to let them talk.
  • A few things:
    1. How about including a link to the original story? To say that PCWorld can be found at http://www.pcworld.com/ isn't terribly enlightening.
    2. If the readers of /. need to be informed that 480 is more than 400, I'm probably jacked in the wrong board.
    3. Huh? It's less than a bit per second? 'm' is for milli, one thousandth.
    4. Somebody is being sarcastic.

    • 3.Huh? It's less than a bit per second? 'm' is for milli, one thousandth.


      Hold on there cowboy, you're talking crazy metric talk there. In the world of bits and bytes isn't little m = 1000 and big M = 1024 (or was it the other way around, I can't remember). Maybe I'm the one who's crazy. In fact, maybe I should stop posting to slashdot whenever I've spent more than 8 hours in one day working on nothing but pointers and memory.

  • How long before we can set up a USB2.0 network?

    Sounds like a good step if USB2.0 doesn't cost too much.

  • by James Ray Kenney (9036) <jrkenney.swbell@net> on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @06:40PM (#2253416) Homepage
    After reading the comments so far, I figured that there should be something on topic, SO...

    The one problem with USB 2.0 is that it needs a computer to function. That makes it useless for many consumer uses.
    Firewire does not need a computer in the loop. Each device is intelligent enough to talk to other devices in and of itself.

    While USB 2.0 does not market itself for those purposes, it does market itself for purposes that firewire has worked fine for, for the last few years. Purposes like video transfer, high-speed data connection, etc. Fire wire is cheep enough these days that interface boards are being bundled along with low-end video editing software.

    If more motherboards would provide it onboard, there would be NO need for USB 2.0, except in the few situations where a hub topology was really needed.

    James Ray Kenney
    • Whenever I compare the two, I always arrive at the analogy that FireWire is to USB2 as SCSI is to EIDE. FireWire is simply a very elegant and appealing solution that already exists and is already better than USB 2.0. The only way to push USB is by putting a huge marketing force (Intel) behind it. Eventually, I think FireWire will own the high-end while USB owns the random Taiwanese junk market. Compare SCSI and ATA today.
      • Yes, I know what you mean. If companies had started using SCSI in bulk, then the prices would have been MUCH lower, MUCH faster.
        It is a shame that SCSI and Firewire are not included as standard equipment on everything except the VERY cheapest motherboards. If they were, the market for SCSI and Firewire devices would be MUCH larger and the prices would plummet, creating MORE demand, causing MORE price decreases, causing .... you get the idea.

        James Ray Kenney
        • Why bother ?
          Current generation IDE devices are more than enough for everyday computer use.
          Most people wouldn't even notice even someone switched their disks to SCSI.
          • Current generation IDE devices are more than enough for everyday computer use. Most people wouldn't even notice even someone switched their disks to SCSI.

            Yeah, but we could have been there 10 years ago (well 7) if SCSI had been pushed to the mass market. Now we would have way way faster systems, plus it wouldn't be such a pain to get a whole bunch of IDE controlers in a machine to build a huge MP3 jukebox (since SCSI can handle 7 or 15 drives on the bus).

            Plus I'm not convinced that IDE is as easy on the system as command tagged SCSI, and the IDE command tagging is still kinda buggy. It is definitly much closer then ever though, and very seldom is SCSI worth paying the 3x price jump for disks... (or whatever the conversion ratio is today)

      • Speaking of which, which of the two pull lower CPU utilization? As in would somebody be completely out of their mind to try high end video tricks on a USB 2.0 device?
      • Do you know why EIDE is still around and popular today? Because it's cheap. EIDE is simpler than SCSI.

        Do you know why USB will still stay around? Because implenting USB hardware is much easier and cheaper than Firewire.

        I don't think either will die.
        • What makes you think that USB(2) is easier than Firewire?

          It isn't really cheaper either. The price difference is nowhere like SCSI vs. EIDE.

          And, Firewire has some important property that makes it way easier from the viewpoint of many simple end-users: it can connect consumer devices directly, without the need for a computer as controller. This, IMO, shall be crucial in the demise of USB2. Firewire has a place and won't go away because of this, for the rest they are mostly the same (from a simplistic POV).

          If you must have firewire anyways (because all video cameras have it or shall have it) and for the rest firewire and USB2 are almost the same, then why bother with USB2?
      • Since the difference between Firewire and USB2 is not only, unlike SCSI vs. EIDE, performance, but also real functionality that shall be very visible to end-users.

        Whereas non-demanding end-users didn't have a real reason to prefer SCSI over EIDE (on the contrary, SCSI was a bit more complicated to set up) they do have a reason to prefer Firewire: It can function without a computer directly between electronic consumer devices. This makes USB2 more complex and less functional even in the eyes of simple end-users.

        Therefore I believe that in this case, not even Intels marketing and pushing to make a computer indispensible for working with video etc. will succeed in letting the inferior solution prevail.
    • An article ("USB 2.0 versus FireWire") related to this [macworld.com] ran on MacCentral [macworld.com] back in April.

      It predicts firewire and usb will coexist, with firewire probably remaining dominant in audio/video.

      The point-to-point aspect of firewire seems like a huge advantage for these applications, and it will be interesting to see if the predicted speed bumps of firewire 2 and 3 really are double and triple current speeds, as expected (and way faster than USB 2).

    • Alright, finally someone who knows what he's talking about:

      Firewire is a bit more powerful than USB 2.0, given it's expandability and it's hostless capabilities.

      Firewire has already become a huge advantage in my industry - the video editing industry. USB 2.0 cannot and will not replace Firewire in terms of performance and flexibility.

      USB is a great, inexpensive interface for mice and other desktop devices connected to a computer. Firewire is great for predictable, high-speed data transfers between many classes of high speed devices.

      USB 2.0 is an improvement in technology, but it does not improve customer relations. More incompatibile hardware and moving-target standards only results in more costs to the end users.
    • And not to put too fine a point on the excellent comment that "it needs a computer to function" -- USB puts *ALL* intelligence in the USB host.. i.e. the computer. If you're Intel, this sounds like a good thing. If you're an embedded developer with anything resembling a processor, it can actually rather suck.

      You see, the USB bus basically requires that the host POLL the client devices, with all of the problems that entails. E.g. the USB device's driver polling frequency determines the latency by which the host can accept an update of client state, and since polling itself requires client processing bandwidth to handle, polling faster sucks more client bandwidth. Moreover, polling sucks cycles even if there is nothing to tell the host!

      USB is great as a simple desktop bus facility since it does permit cheap implementation of things like keyboards, mice, etc. But for high-rate communication between embedded devices USB is just awful.
      • If you look at the low-level traffic on the bus USB is really a polling architecture. But from the host processor's point of view USB is interrupt-driven since the USB host controller does the polling itself and interrupt the host only if it needs special attention. In reality, a well-written USB driver puts a very light load on the host. Microsoft's USB drivers are not so well-written. The audio drivers are particularly aweful. This is NOT a limitation of the USB standard.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    aren't newer and fully backward-compatible firewire interfaces going to start showing up soon that run much faster than the original ones?

    does USB 2.0 have any advantages over firewire other than that you're paying licensing fees to Intel and not Apple? (and isn't it free to conform to the firewire spec as long as you call it "IEEE 1394" or whatever instead of "firewire"?) Is there any reason for this USB2 standard to exist other than ensuring that nothing that involves an Apple patent becomes industry standard?
  • by alewando (854) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @06:42PM (#2253421)
    Then USB 2.0 is a duckbilled platypus.

    Everyone, sing after me:
    Let's slap together a bunch of features onto a product never intended to provide them!
    Hey!

    Let's win this battle on the marketing field rather than the technical merits!
    Hey!

    Let's leverage our existing monopolies to create new ones!
    Hey!

    What's the "SB" in USB stand for? Serial Bus? No! Super Bandwidth!
    Hey!


    Microsoft [adequacy.org] isn't going with USB 2.0 [zdnet.com]; that alone should give pause. And what's the roadmap for the future? A present negligible superiority is all well and good for the moment, but how much can they expect to increase it as IEEE 1394 plods ahead? Not terribly much.

    *Sigh*
  • It's just waiting for the rubber stamp. Initial hardware is almost ready to go.

    I really don't need my keyboard running at 480mbps, so USB2 doesn't really appeal to me.

    800mbps of firewire, now THAT is nice...
  • Listen folks... anyone who attended WinHEC in Anaheim this year couldn't have missed the writing on the wall. USB is low speed keyboard/mice/joystick/ticker-tape stuff. High bandwidth video/storage/networking is Firewire.
    And we're all grown up enough to realize that Windows (and WinHEC) drive the volumes that hardware manufacturers look at to determine what to make.

    Put a fork in USB 2.0... it's toast.
  • Intel wants to expand USB so that it can be used for high bandwidth devices, which traditionally has been the role of FireWire. Yet, Firewire's already established. There are many devices already on the market supporting this standard (camcorders, hard drives, etc). USB 2.0 is still basically vaporware - it's not shipping, and I don't know of any usb 2.0 devices. I really don't see any reason to use USB 2.0 over FireWire.

    Firewire can also be used for data transfer without a computer (digital camcorder to vcr, as an example). Since Intel's behind USB and they're interested in selling boxes, you need a computer in every usb chain.

    Besides, the next generation of firewire will be ready soon, doubling the transfer rate to 800 mbps.

  • Not much of a story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quikah (14419) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @06:51PM (#2253449)
    After a few minutes of searching I think I finally figured out exactly where PCWorld has "reported" that Linux will have USB 2.0 drivers in first half of 2002. It is located in this story [pcworld.com] .

    Here is the information they give:

    "But don't count USB 2.0 out. Microsoft has announced that it will offer downloadable USB 2.0 drivers for Windows 2000 and for the upcoming Windows XP operating system. Linux support for USB 2.0 should come in the first half of 2002.

    Silicon behemoth Intel currently provides space for a USB 2.0 controller chip on its Pentium 4 motherboards, and Gateway has announced that it will put the chips in some PCs beginning this fall. Intel and Acer Labs plan to put USB 2.0 into at least some chip sets by mid-2002; Via Technologies, on the other hand, will add IEEE 1394 support to its chip sets before turning to USB 2.0. AMD says it will support USB 2.0, but not how or when."


    Sounds like speculation to me on the Linux drivers. Do any Linux USB devs have any actual info about this?
    • Yes and no (Score:2, Informative)

      by Johannes (33283)
      There is an EHCI driver and USB 2.0 core patches available right now for Linux.

      The current plan is to merge them into the 2.5 kernel, and perhaps backport into the 2.4 kernel once it is deemed stable.

      The problem holding back USB 2.0 under Linux is device availability. We've had a couple of vendors donate some USB 2.0 Host Controllers but only 1 device. There are a couple of devices available for purchase now and they work with the aforementioned patches.

      The story on pcworld.com is speculation. We have USB 2.0 support, but it's not finished and it will only be finished when we have devices to test against.
  • by srvivn21 (410280) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @06:55PM (#2253467)
    USB2 is FINNALY catching up to IEEE 1394 (firewire [http], iLink [sony.com], whatever) in terms of speed. Have you heard of 1394b [1394ta.org]? Coming to devices near you starting at 800mbps, ramping up to over 3.2gbps by 2003.

    Ain't technology grand?
    • by lup23 (444247)
      Agreed...

      People keep saying that USB 2.0 is faster then 1394a and it is, slightly. 1394b has a number of other benifits that USB doesn't have.

      1. 1394 is non-computer centric. There can be any number of computers in a chain from zero to 63.

      2. 1394 provides an isosyncronous mode of transmision. This is required for streaming video.

      3. 1394 has better methods of bandwidth enforcement then USB

      Beyond thoes benifits, 1394b supports speed up to 3.2Gbits/sec at up to 100 meters over fiber.

      Another sign from the industry is that theLucent spinoff, Agere Systems, has scrapped plans to produce a USB 2.0 chipset and in order to speed development of it's 1394b chipset http://www.lucent.com/press/0701/010716.mea.html

      USB 2.0 looks to be too little, too late.
      • 1394 provides an isosyncronous mode of transmision. This is required for streaming video.

        USB1 (and I assume 2) has isosyncronous transmision, I think it was for the speakers that didn't catch on. You don't really need isosyncronous transmision to do streaming you need a buffer twice the size of the jitter. However to sync up multiple event streams isosyncronous transmision makes life way simpler.

        That said, I continue to enjoy my FireWire CD-RW, I'm not going to speed right out and buy a USB2 anything.

  • USB is a low cost I/O interface that relys on the cpu. Intel wanted a standard that was cheap and would promote cpu sales. As devices are added processing goes up and available cycles goes down. Other I/O interfaces like scsi utilize a seperate processor to allow the cpu to perform more important tasks.

    I like usb, its fairly fast and cheap but intel has its own reasons for pushing the standard.
    • Agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by marcsiry (38594)
      I worked for a major toy company that was basically subsidized by Intel to put a USB port on every one of our products. Additionally, we were encouraged to bundle CPU intensive software in order to drive computer upgrades.

      We all knew that USB was a poor choice for anything but momentary inputs, but we were pumping video, sound, all sorts of crap through the lines, and watching the signals degrade and the software sputter to a halt. This was USB-1, of course, but IMO, regardless of the bandwidth, it's a poor choice for the sort of tasks FireWire is ideal for, precisely because it's CPU dependent.
    • I'm not sure where you got the information from, but USB is actually CPU efficient. All of the hard processing is done by the Host Controllers (UHCI, OHCI and EHCI).

      In fact, USB from a CPU perspective is simpler than SCSI, IP and in fact, is roughly as complex as Firewire.
      • All of the hard processing is done by the Host Controllers (UHCI, OHCI and EHCI).

        Either UHCI or OHCI is a pretty dumb part and doesn't do a whole lot of work. The other is a bit better, but I don't think it does scatter gather like many SCSI controllers (and gigabit ethernets). I have no idea about EHCI, it might be pretty bright.

        In fact, USB from a CPU perspective is simpler than SCSI, IP and in fact, is roughly as complex as Firewire

        Simper is not the same as more efficient. Copying all the data to a fixed location, fixed size buffer, or even doing OUTB in a loop is quite simple. Setting up a scatter gather ring buffer and letting the (non-CPU) hardware do all the hard work is frequently much much faster.

    • Other I/O interfaces like scsi utilize a seperate processor to allow the cpu to perform more important tasks.

      The USB host controller is about as smart as many SCSI controllers. It uses bus-mastering DMA based on control structures prepared in memory by the CPU and intepreted by the USB host controller. It puts a very light load on the CPU. What wastes CPU cycles is the type of devices that people build - USB WinModems that rely on the CPU for the modulation, or simple, DAC-only USB audio devices that use the CPU for all sample rate conversion, mixing, software synthesis etc.

      True, Intel has been pushing to move more and more of the value in a PC from the peripherals to the motherboard where it can monopolize it. In order to do that they needed an EFFICIENT serial I/O bus. USB is not wasteful in itself.

      The fact that USB is a low-cost interface makes it possible to build such devices that use (abuse?) the CPU power. The cost savings of a WinModem compared to a DSP-based modem, for example, would not have such a big effect on the price tag if the interface were much more expensive.
  • First: It's Cool that linux has support for a buzzword before windoze.

    That being said, usb2 is just Intel wishing they had gotten on the firewire bandwagon early on. It's on 80mbps faster than FireWire, and doesn't have any serious advantages. FireWire is here for a while, and when it is replaced it will be by something a lot faster than usb2.

    But thats just my opinion, I could be wrong. ;-)
  • USB 2.0 problems (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Auckerman (223266) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @07:08PM (#2253528)
    1. Firewire is ALREADY ubquitious and plans to move it to your TV already in place.


    2. The moment you put a mouse (or anyother low speed device) on that USB 2.0 port you loose the 480MB/sec max throughput.


    3. Microsoft supports Firewire instead of USB 2 [zdnet.com]


    4. Firewire is looking to move to 800MB/sec in the near future.

    • Firewire today (1394a) supports:

      100 Mb/s
      200 Mb/s
      400 Mb/s

      1394b will support:

      800 Mb/s
      1.6 Gb/s
      3.2 Gb/s

      Which should soundly spank USB :)
    • Microsoft is planning on supporting USB 2.0 under Windows XP. It's just that drivers were not ready in time for the RTM version.

      This link talks about their support for USB 2.0:
      http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/usb/

  • Will someone explain to me why anyone should be excited about USB 2.0 when we already have Firewire? Look how long it's taken to get decent support for Firewire. Let's get widespread Firewire first for christ's sake.
  • Do you think that USB 2.0 stands a chance of winning [apple.com] an Emmy [emmys.tv]?

    Gosh I hope so! I want to visit the USB 2.0 star on Hollywood's "walk of fame"! Maybe it could replace one of the older, less visited dedications, like Ida Lupino or Jack Lord...

    Jeremiah

  • I applaud Linux developers for supporting USB2 before certain other companies.

    There are two things to remember about USB2 as compared to Firewire though...

    1. 480Mbits/sec is only a possible maximum. Ultimately your getting that speed depends largely on the topology that is employed.

    2. Firewire packets have a time code. USB2 packets do not. That makes USB2 inappropriate for use as a dependable high-quality media conduit.

  • The Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by XBL (305578) on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @07:14PM (#2253554)
    I think maybe he means http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,60124,00 .asp [pcworld.com].
  • It's nice that USB 2.0 is faster than FireWire and all, but show me one camcorder that has a USB port. ;)


    I don't see FireWire getting replaced by USB 2.0 any time soon, if ever. What's the point? USB 2.0 is not THAT much faster to warrant retooling.


    It will speed up scanners, cheap webcams and other such things though. As for your keyboard, well, if you can type THAT fast... Upgrade!

  • Scince noone else seems to be posting facts, I will.
    USB2 is backward compatible to USB1. Firewire isnt.
    Firewire 2 is not 800Mbps, it's 3.2Gbps.

    So, for the most part, USB2 will takeover the low-end high-band market, and Firewire2 will replace gigabit ethernet, and possibly SCSI.
  • As has been said many times already among these responses, there is no reason to use USB 2.0 when FireWire exists. Why would you want to use a technology that will, when it is released, be slightly faster than FireWire has been for over 2 years? FireWire is also much more versatile. FireWire devices can communicate with each other without a PC. And with 1394b coming out *very* soon, there is just no reason to switch from FireWire to USB 2.0.

    Now if Intel wasn't pushing USB 2.0 as a replacement for FireWire, I would be all for it. I think it would be great if USB 2.0 replaced USB 1.1. Having digital still cameras with a 480MB connection will make downloading all those images really fast. However, billing USB 2.0 as a replacement for FireWire is just insane. There are already millions of camcorders with built in FireWire, and millions of PCs are shipping with it. FireWire has won the war and it hasn't even started.

    Mr. Spleen

    • As has been said many times already among these responses, there is no reason to use USB 2.0 when FireWire exists.

      Yes, there is a reason to use USB2. As far as I know, USB devices won't work on a Firewire port, and will work on USB2 ports [usbworkshop.com]. In effect, USB2 will already have it's user base, and Firewire will have to build one up.

      Firewire may be a superior technology, but customers will find USB2 more convenient because they've already got the peripherals to go with it. Firewire will remain a high-end professional video tool and nothing more.

      Of course, if you'd be willing to show me lots of PC owners who are eager to buy expensive new Firewire peripherals to replace their expensive old USB peripherals, I might change my mind. :)

      • Firewire already has a user base, albeit not in the low end PC market. Most high speed storage devices and multimedia devices use firewire. Also, now that Intel is going to add IEEE1394 to their mother boards things may change in the low end aswell. Each has their market and it is a question of the hardware manufacturers deciding which technology best fits their application.
      • Yes, there is a reason to use USB2. As far as I know, USB devices won't work on a Firewire port, and will work on USB2 ports [usbworkshop.com]. In effect, USB2 will already have it's user base, and Firewire will have to build one up.

        Um, haven't FireWire cameras (still and video), CD-RWs, Hard Disks, RAID arrays, and what not been shipping for at least 18 months?

        Firewire may be a superior technology, but customers will find USB2 more convenient because they've already got the peripherals to go with it. Firewire will remain a high-end professional video tool and nothing more.

        High end video? All of the digital video cameras I have seen had FireWire. That's $800 cameras at the local 1 hour film shop!

        You do have to go pretty far up the food chain on computers to find FireWire though, like Viaos and Macs.

        So I don't see a big installed base of USB2 devices. I won't be upset to see USB2 drive down the cost of fast external drives or whatever. As long as it doesn't turn out to suck.

  • With a transfer rate of 480mbps (more than firewire's 400mbps) it seems promising."

    The theoretical transfer rate of USB is misleading. Overall, USB remains an inferior technology to USB for applications requiring high bandwidth with deterministic, isochronous transmission. This article [mackido.com] provides a good explanation of some of the issues involved. In one of the projects I have been leading, we have been involved in developing the Linux IP over 1394 drivers, and have obtained over 150 Mb/s point-to-point bandwidth using IEEE 1394 asynchronous mode, with room for left for further optimization . The increased function call overhead of USB makes even this modest performance level unlikely.

    We are saddled with this inferior technological solution due to the recalcitrance and greed of Intel, who, as usual, are elevating their hidden agenda borne of backroom deals and "strategic partnerships" above the interests of their customers.

  • Just as the Evolution Theory was about to be proven to the scientific community once and for all, Slashdot Editor Hemos mis-places the Missing Link. Conspiracy theorists believe this is the result of an international coverup funded by religious organizations in an effort to keep the Evolution Theory down.

    In related news, Linux is rumored to support the new high-speed USB 2.0, which should begin to appear in kernel version 2.6, due out by the end of 2044.
  • I know that from a licensing standpoint USB is cheaper than Firewire, but

    Seeing that USB is reliant on a processor, and that it seems to be more simple . . . is USB also cheaper, physically, to use/make?

    In other words, is this going to be IDE versus Scuzzy all over again?
    • Certainly a valid question. Looking at the USB 1.0 and 1.1 designs it's obvious that Intel's goal was to make peripheral development as cheap as possible.

      They made the hardware cheap by putting every thing they could into software. If you could save a gate by making it a "soft function", they did it. Why? Two big reasons:

      1. Mfgs pay for each unit of hardware produced while software is a flat cost... whether you sell 100 widget joysticks or 10 million widget joysticks you only pay the software guys once, unlike an extra transistor that you 100 versus 10 million of.

      2. More software functionality equals more CPU bandwidth used. And chipzilla loves CPU hungry designs.

      I don't think it'll be IDE vs. SCSI though. Yes Firewire is more expensive than USB... but it's being incorporated into relatively expensive devices (camcorders, hard drives, etc) as opposed to keyboards and mice. If firewire adds $1 to the cost of a $2000 camcorder, that's no big deal. If that $1 was instead on a $10 keyboard it'd be a totally different story.

  • yeah great, we will have support for USB 2.0 but don't we have to be able to have support for each device?

    Linux supports USB just fine it is the individual drivers for the devices that we are lacking. There are plenty of people putting in some hardcore work into making things work w/Linux but for the most part I see a lot of red X's next to just about every device (including every USB device I have ever had)

    I am glad to see that Intel is going to push for Linux support but we need to have the drivers written too!
  • OK OK so there are no real devices at that data rate yet, but 1394b supports 800Mbps, 1.6Gbps and 3.6Gbps. The standard is inplace and you can expect devices rather soon at 800 and 1.6Gbps with just around the corner.
    • The only catch will be that most motherboard manufacturers will be making 800Mbps standard and forcing you to buy 3.6Gbps cards separatly if you really need that speed.

      BTW isn't the 3.6Gbps rate only available via optical connections?
  • While the ATA interface currently maxes out at 133 megabytes per second, serial ATA will debut at about 150 MBps and is expected to quadruple to 600 MBps in the next few years.

    Right... they said the same thing about RDRAM speed, DVD capacity and countless other technologies. The only computer part that reliable gets that much faster is the CPU. Even the good old mainstay of increasing ATA harddrive capacities has it a brick wall for increasing capacity in the past year.
  • by iso (87585) <slash@ w a r p z ero.info> on Tuesday September 04, 2001 @11:54PM (#2254307) Homepage

    With a transfer rate of 480mbps (more than firewire's 400mbps) it seems promising

    Let me guess: you also buy processors based soley on the megahertz rating. If you seriously believe that the "480mb/s" rating of USB 2.0 (chosen only because it appears on paper to be faster than FireWire), then I have a bridge to sell you.

    USB was meant to be a replacement for serial ports; for low-speed devices that could tolerate high-latencies, like keyboards and mice. It was never meant for devices like digital camcoders; that's FireWire's specialty. USB 2.0 is a hack. A wide adoption of USB 2.0 over FireWire would be a very bad thing. Thankfully FireWire 2.0 will reach very close to real and sustainable speeds of 800mb/s, cleanly beating even the highly exaggerated speeds of USB 2.0.

    People that buy on "specs" really piss me off. Learn something about the underlying technology before you go making rampant generalizations.

    - j

  • The problem with USB in general that I can see is that the USB design does not have the idea of "standard types".

    Consider SCSI: any SCSI hard disk ID's itself as a SCSI mass storage device, any SCSI CDROM ID's itself as a CDROM, any SCSI CDR as a CDR (with the new standards....), etc. I don't have to have a special driver to connect my Quantum Fireball to my SCSI bus.

    Now look at USB: I have a USB mass storage device (the docking bay for my NEO-35), a SCSI over USB based scanner, and a USB serial port. Do any of those things have drivers under Linux? Only the serial port. Why? Because there is no standard for USB to SCSI adapters, no standard for USB mass storage devices, no standards IN GENERAL.

    The USB design committee basically said "Here's how you read a unique ID from the device. From there, you look in C:\Windows\System, A:; and D: for your DLL". In other words, they basically did half the job of coming up with a standard, taking the "Yer gonna use the Winders Drivers, right?" attitude.

    Why don't they establish some standards for devices: Any USB mass storage adaptor must provide these commands, any USB CDR must provide these commands, any USB scanner must provide these commands, any USB to SCSI bridge must provide these commands, etc.

    Also, on the subject of the USB HID (human interface device): this is nothing but a big MGI (mogolian group intercourse) - an HID is a thing that does stuff. That's about the extent of the USB spec. How about specifying that an HID must provide a descriptor list in a well defined format (XML, anyone?) that defines what inputs and outputs the device has?

    Sorry, but until the various standards committees accept that "Supply a GUID, and the rest is up to Windows" is not enough, things like USB, Firewire, Bluetooth, etc. will not be supportable by anything other than Windows.

    As an embedded systems developer, I am disgusted by having to either waste my time writing a million drivers for the things people want to hang off my box, or having to embed Windows.

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