Silicon Vendor Discontinues USB 2.0 Products

Agere Systems announced today it’s discontinuing its discrete products that support the Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0 standard, including host controller and transceiver chips, and will accelerate its work on next-generation 1394b products.

A handful of vendors are already shipping add-in cards and other products using USB 2.0 — which accelerates today’s USB 1.1 from 12Mbps to 480Mbps — but most of today’s high-speed peripherals such as video cameras, scanners, and storage devices use the 400Mbps FireWire or 1394a interface.

Microsoft announced earlier this year that, due to a lack of finalized hardware, it would not build USB 2.0 drivers into Windows XP when that operating system ships October 25, although it’s since promised to provide USB 2.0 support via patches or Windows Update.

Meanwhile, FireWire backers have finalized specifications for IEEE 1394b, a proposed standard expected to deliver data at up to 800Mbps (and eventually at up to 3.2GB/sec using plastic optical fiber instead of copper wiring). The new versions of both USB and FireWire will be backward-compatible with existing products.

It’s the new FireWire that Agere, formerly Lucent Technologies’ Microelectronics Group, is betting on, according to Jack Keller, general manager of the company’s computer products business unit. “[Today’s] announcements are a clear indication of Agere’s sharpening focus on accelerating the multiple benefits of 1394b technology to our customers,” Keller says, adding that the move shows Agere Systems “redirecting its product development efforts to the company’s most promising market opportunities.”

Eric Grevstad is managing editor of’s sister site, a href=””>Hardware Central.

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