Alf Petter Syvertsen, Silicon Labs
May 22, 2015
Over the last decade, the universal serial bus (USB) standard has been adopted by designers of industrial and consumer devices as their interface of choice for enabling connectivity to other applications due to its ease-of-use, plug-and-play functionality and robustness. USB has achieved its primary goal of simplifying the way consumers control peripherals and transfer data. With more than three billion USB-enabled devices shipped into the market, USB is not only the fastest growing interface in consumer applications but has also achieved significant growth in industrial markets.
However, USB's ease-of-use, plug-and-play functionality and robustness do not come free for embedded solutions designers, especially if they are designing power-sensitive, battery-operated connected device products for the Internet of Things. For small, portable devices, adding USB as a communication interface at least doubles application current consumption and leads to devices that require much larger batteries than originally anticipated.
Upgrading from a traditional serial interface for communication to the popular USB interface often puts unfeasible restrictions on an energy budget. Often, a developer will have to choose between doubling the battery size and increasing device cost, which makes it less appealing, or cutting back on much-needed differentiating features. Let's take a look at how the USB standard has evolved from the dream of standardizing all PC connections to a state-of-the-art technology that allows even small battery-powered devices for the IoT to communicate with anything.
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