Lucent Releases USB Technology Improvements

Lucent Technologies Inc. announced
Monday improvements to Universal Serial Bus technology that will speed up
next-generation devices nearly 40 times the current standard.

The company’s release of Lucent’s USB host controller and
transceiver chips using the USB 2.0 standard boosts the speed it takes to
convert parallel data in peripherals to serial data in
computers. Computers using the USB 2.0 standard will exchange information
up to 480 megabits per second, compared to the USB 1.1 chipset, which tops
out at 12 Mbit/s.

That’s good news for manufacturers of digital subscriber line and cable
modems, as companies work on solutions for customers to squeeze every bit
of speed they can out of their Internet connection.

The new chipset is also a boon for users of printers, scanners, drive
backup and digital video cameras, who would see their data-intensive
applications choking the connection between the two devices. In the arena
of desktop publishing, where these devices are often run simultaneously,
the benefits are considerable.

The rate of improvement cuts down application times in ways that will make
customers very happy. Downloading a “roll” of film from a digital camera
or scanning a picture will take seconds now, instead of minutes. A
one-gigabyte disk backup taking nearly a half-hour using USB 1.1 technology
is done in under a minute with the new chipset.

Dan Devine, Lucent Microelectronics Group USB product manager, said the new
standard solves the problems created with the advent of big-data appliances
like the digital video camera and set-top boxes.

“We have solved the bandwidth shortage problems for both current and future
USB connections,” Devine said. “The 12 megabits per second of shared
bandwidth in USB 1.1 just isn’t enough anymore. Personal computers, PC
add-in cards and set-top boxes need more information carrying capacity to
get more done faster. With our unique solution, our customers can avoid
the hassle of having to develop additional chips themselves or obtain them
from other sources to increase USB 1.1 bandwidth. As a result, they can
get their products to their customers quicker.”

The technology is the culmination of the USB
Promoter Group
, made up of technology heavyweights Compaq Computer Corp.,
Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., Lucent, Microsoft Corp.,
NEC Corp. and
Phillips
Semiconductors
.

The group was formed early last year to address the growing number of
data-intensive applications like high-resolution video-conferencing and
high-speed Internet access.

Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s Desktop Products Group vice
president, said the upgrade also frees consumers from switching to a new
technology.

“Since the high-speed mode has the same basic architecture of USB,
migrating existing USB peripherals to USB 2.0 is a much easier task than
transferring to a brand new technology,” Gelsinger said. “Also, because USB
2.0 will be fully forward and backward compatible with current USB systems
and peripherals, working with existing cables and connectors, consumers
have the benefit of using devices they already have.”

Lucent plans to release samples to manufacturers by October, with its mass
launch in December. In quantities of 10,000 the USS-2000 host controller
chip will sold for $8.50, while the USS2X1 will go for $3.75.

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