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Micro versus Mini: USB Blog

Micro Mini USB

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Micro vs Mini USB

The USB drive, like many technologies, is one we take for granted. Long before the emergence of cloud computing, USBs were the go-to option for data storage. From old prom photos to copies of your final thesis, USBs have provided the versatility of portable data that has revolutionized the future of storage functionality.

So....what exactly is the USB? The USB connector is a simplified device that allows for a universal method of connecting peripheral devices to computers and to each other. The innovation of the USB carrying both data, as well as supplying power, has broadened the usability of devices and expanded the applications for which they can be used.

After several developmental versions, the USB standard was officially introduced to the world in January 1996, and USB 2.0 was released in April 2000. Each new standard released has allowed for a higher rate of data transfer.

In November 2008, USB 3.0 was revealed with new “SuperSpeed” mode. USB Implementers Forum, Inc. is a non-profit corporation founded by the group of seven companies that developed the Universal Serial Bus specification: Intel, Compaq, Microsoft, NEC, Digital Equipment Corporation, IBM, Nortel. They maintain the USB standards to this day.

USB cords transmit about 5 volts of direct current, and USB are available in 4 data transfer speeds: Low Speed: 1.5Mbps; Full Speed: 12Mbps; High Speed: 5 Gbps (USB 2.0+), and SuperSpeed: 10 Gbps USB (USB 3.0 only). Standard Type A USB connectors are rated for about 1,500 lifetime insertion cycles.

The Mini USB and Micro USB versions are developed to endure more uses before becoming worn. The USB Implementers Forum standardized Micro USB connectors in 2007, which originally had about 1000 lifetime insertions total (just once a day for three years, or three times a day for one year). The micro-USB connector was designed with past failings in mind, and has a rated lifetime of about 10,000 insertion cycles. A design known as “kinked sides" was produced to be backwards-compatible, and extend life of the connector.

The newer Micro USB receptacles are designed for up to 10,000 cycles of insertion and removal between the 5,000 for the Mini-USB receptacle. Additionally, the total insertion lifetime was also increased to about 5,000 cycles. Furthermore, the leaf-spring connector was moved from the jack to the plug, so that the most-stressed part is on the cable side of the connection. This results in the less expensive cable that would bear the most wear, instead of the more expensive micro-USB device.

Micro USB is now the standard method of connecting cell phones to their power supply, along with connecting to devices like tablets and laptops. Many items use micro USB connectors now instead of the depreciated mini USB connectors, but fortunately there are adapters available.

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