Category Archives: USB

Questions About USB Cables? Check Out the USB Cable Guide!

USB Cable Guide from


Our exclusive USB User Guide is designed to address all of your questions regarding USB technology. Whether you’re looking for a basic technical primer on the subject, or require more specific information on which USB cable is right for your application, Amphenol has you covered. With thousands of USB cables available in stock everyday, we’re ready to address your USB needs, large or small.

Despite its widespread popularity today, the USB (Universal Serial Bus) interface faced a tumultuous upstart back in 1996. Many of the first generation USB devices failed to follow the guidelines provided in the USB specification, causing headaches for users. Most of the problems found with early USB devices were tracked down to software incompatibilities. The Windows 95 operating system never properly integrated USB technology, despite several attempts to do so. This all changed in June of 1998 with the release of the Windows 98 OS, which was designed to support USB from its inception. In the six years following the release of Windows 98, over 1 Billion USB devices went online worldwide.


Why USB?

USB is the defacto industry standard computer interface because of its immense benefits over prior technologies. These benefits include:

• Speed – USB supports high speed datatransfer between today’s devices

• Expansion – A single USB port can support

up to 127 different devices

• Ease – USB features “Hot Swapping” and

“Plug and Play” capabilities

USBlogo The USB “Trident”Logo



The development of the Universal Serial Bus was an absolute necessity. The proliferation of the internet, MP3 players, PC peripherals, PDA’s, and other mobile devices increased the demand on a computer’s ports. For over 15 years, computers relied on serial and parallel ports for their connection to the outside world. These bulky interfaces relied on a standard known as RS-232 to transfer data.

While RS-232 could handle basic I/O functionality for simple devices like mice and joysticks, it was never intended to handle the high speed data rates demanded by today’s devices. The maximum transfer speed for a serial port is roughly 115,000 bps (bits per second). The maximum transfer speed for a parallel port is roughly 2 Mbps (megabits per second). USB, by comparison, supports data transfer rates up to 480 Mbps; over 4,000 times faster than a serial interface. It is no wonder why nearly all notebook and desktop PC’s sold today fail to include serial and parallel ports in their designs.


                        9-Pin Serial Port                                                         25-Pin Parallel Port


Before the advent of USB, expanding ports on a PC was a daunting task. Most PC’s came equipped with at most two serial ports and one parallel port. If you needed to connect anything beyond a mouse and a printer, it would require opening up the computer and installing an expansion card. USB was designed to eliminate these expansion problems from the onset by supporting up to 127 different devices on a single port. Since an average PC comes equipped with four USB ports, one could potentially support over 500 devices from a single machine.


Now, 500 devices hooked up to a single computer is a bit of exaggeration, but it is theoretically possible. What if you need more USB ports than are presently available on your PC? A USB Hub is a cheap and effective device that connects to a single port and splits off into four or more new ports. They’re available in two varieties: powered and unpowered. Larger devices like printers or scanners usually come with their own power supply. Smaller devices such as webcams, joysticks, mice, and thumb drives are powered by the computer’s USB port directly. Each port has a power limit, so a powered USB hub may be necessary if your devices are power hungry.


USB was designed with ease in mind. Gone are the days of wasting hours on end trying to manually load software drivers to a new device up and running. USB devices are a breeze to set up thanks to Plug-and-Play technology. Plug-and-Play is a computer feature that allows the addition of a new device, normally a peripheral, without requiring reconfiguration or manual installation of software drivers. The computer will either install that new device automatically or will simply prompt you for the CD included with that device. Although early implimentations of Plug-and-Play for USB (then known as Plug-and Pray) were troublesome, the process has mostly worked itself out.


USBfan Hgloves
upA USB Fan           USB Heated Gloves rightA
ttUSB is also an easy technology to work with from an Orignal Equipment Manufacturer’s point of view. USB connectors are extremely reliable and inexpensive. Since USB is an internationally adopted technology, specialized software is not required for its implementation. OEM’s have come up with some pretty interesting USB devices over the years based on the fact that it is easy to tap into the USB port’s power supply. USB lights, USB fans, USB air darts, even USB heated gloves are on the market.


USB Cable Overview

USB cables are designated by the connector types used on each end. The Type A connector is flat and always goes to the computer whereas the Type B connector is more square-like and always goes to the device. Most USB cables use male connectors, with the exception of a USB extension cable, which features a female Type A connector on one end.


USB Type A                                               USB Type B
ttNeed help in finding the right USB cable for your particular device? Although some manufacturers elect to use a special proprietary USB cable that is only compatible with their device, most tend to use one of several standard cables. has all of these standard cables in-stock and ready to ship. A quick overview of these standard cable varieties is provided below.



USB Type A-B Cable

The USB Type A-B cable is primarily used to connect a peripheral device to the PC. This is the most common USB cable on the market today. Nearly all printers, scanners, and external drives utilize the USB Type A-B cable. It should be noted that most new printers fail to include a USB cable in the package. To view our selection of USB Type A-B cables, please click here.


Compatible with:


ttPrinters                                        Scanners                                External Hard Drive

USB Type A-A Transfer                           USB Type A-A Extensiontt

TypeAA TypeAAe
ttThere are two styles of Type A-A USB cables on the market today. The Type A-A Male to Male cable is used primarily to transfer data between two PC’s. They are commonly known as USB transfer cables and are often bundled with special computer back-up software. The type A-A Male to Female cable is used to extend the length of an existing USB cables. USB cables can be extended by up to 10 feet without the need for a booster. To view our selection of USB Type A-A cables, please click here.

Compatible with:


PC to PC Transfer                                                                                 USB Cable Extension

USB Type A-Mini B (4-Pin)                      USB Type A-Mini B (5-Pin)


TypeAmini4 TypeAmini5
ttWith the widespread proliferation of cell phones, PDA’s, digital cameras, and MP3 players, it was necessary to create a low profile USB interface. The USB Type A-Mini B cable was the solution offered by the latest USB 2.0 specification. These cables can interface with a PC and support the maximum USB transfer speed just like a standard USB cable, despite the reduced size. The first USB Type A-Mini B cables offered on the market featured a 4-pin connector on one end whereas most modern cables feature a 5-pin connector on one end. There are some subtle differences between the two. To browse our selection of USB Type A-Mini-B cables, please click here.


ttThe 4-Pin Mini-B USB interface was introduced in 1999 with a nearly square connector that is essentially a scaled down version of the standard type B. These connectors are mostly found on early generation digital cameras and MP3 players. Sony uses a special version of the 4-pin for many of their cameras. Most of the USB compatible portable devices built before the year 2003 feature the 4-pin Mini-B as their interface of choice. To go straight to our selection of 4-pin Mini-B cables, please click here.


ttThe 5-pin Mini-B USB interface is the most common type found on today’s popular portable devices. Essentially most of the digital cameras, cellular phones, MP3 players, and PDA’s sold since 2003 use this interface. The inclusion of an additional pin was established to support a new USB feature called USB-on-the-go. This allows the device itself to initiate the USB link rather than the computer, making installation a snap. To go straight to our selection of 5-pin Mini-B cables, please click here.



Special Tip

To properly identify the type of cable needed for your device, simply take a look at some of the features of the connector. The 4-pin connector is square shaped whereas the 5-pin connector is more rectangular. In the picture above, you can clearly distinguish 5 gold colored dots in the center of the connector. These are the “pins” of the connector, and therefore the 5-pin Mini-B cable is the proper choice. Please feel free to compare the interface on your device to the diagrams above for reference purposes.