PNG images: USB

USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, is an industry standard that defines cables, connectors and communications protocols for connection, communication, and power supply between computers and devices.

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Free USB PNGs

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USB was designed to standardize the connection of computer peripherals (including keyboards, pointing devices, digital cameras, printers, portable media players, disk drives and network adapters) to personal computers, both to communicate and to supply electric power. It has largely replaced a variety of earlier interfaces, such as serial ports and parallel ports, as well as separate power chargers for portable devices – and has become commonplace on a wide range of devices.

Created in the mid-1990s, it is currently developed by the USB Implementers Forum (USB IF).

In general, there are three basic formats of USB connectors: the default or standard format intended for desktop or portable equipment (for example, on USB flash drives), the mini intended for mobile equipment (now deprecated except the Mini-B, which is used on many cameras), and the thinner micro size, for low-profile mobile equipment (most modern mobile phones). Also, there are 5 modes of USB data transfer, in order of increasing bandwidth: Low Speed (from 1.0), Full Speed (from 1.0), High Speed (from 2.0), SuperSpeed (from 3.0), and SuperSpeed+ (from 3.1); modes have differing hardware and cabling requirements. USB devices have some choice of implemented modes, and USB version is not a reliable statement of implemented modes. Modes are identified by their names and icons, and the specifications suggests that plugs and receptacles be colour-coded (SuperSpeed is identified by blue).

Unlike other data buses (e.g., Ethernet, HDMI), USB connections are directed, with both upstream and downstream ports emanating from a single host. This applies to electrical power, with only downstream facing ports providing power; this topology was chosen to easily prevent electrical overloads and damaged equipment. Thus, USB cables have different ends: A and B, with different physical connectors for each. Therefore, in general, each different format requires four different connectors: a plug and receptacle for each of the A and B ends. USB cables have the plugs, and the corresponding receptacles are on the computers or electronic devices. In common practice, the A end is usually the standard format, and the B side varies over standard, mini, and micro. The mini and micro formats also provide for USB On-The-Go with a hermaphroditic AB receptacle, which accepts either an A or a B plug. On-the-Go allows USB between peers without discarding the directed topology by choosing the host at connection time; it also allows one receptacle to perform double duty in space-constrained applications.

There are cables with A plugs on both ends, which may be valid if the cable includes, for example, a USB host-to-host transfer device with 2 ports, but they could also be non-standard and erroneous and should be used carefully.

The micro format is the most durable from the point of view of designed insertion lifetime. The standard and mini connectors have a design lifetime of 1,500 insertion-removal cycles, the improved Mini-B connectors increased this to 5,000. The micro connectors were designed with frequent charging of portable devices in mind, so have a design life of 10,000 cycles and also place the flexible contacts, which wear out sooner, on the easily replaced cable, while the more durable rigid contacts are located in the receptacles. Likewise, the springy component of the retention mechanism, parts that provide required gripping force, were also moved into plugs on the cable side.

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