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Digital Audio Essentials by Bruce Fries, Marty Fries

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External Interfaces

Modern computers use a number of general-purpose interfaces to communicate with external devices, such as hard drives, CD/DVD drives, printers, scanners, and digital cameras. Following are descriptions of some common interfaces, and Table 2-4 breaks them down at a glance. Serial (RS-232) and parallel (Centronics) interfaces are rapidly fading away and are being replaced by the faster and more flexible USB and FireWire.

Table 2-4. External intefaces

Interface

Maximum transfer rate

Commonly used for

Serial (RS232)

115 Kbps

External modems, mice

Parallel (ECP)

1 Mbps

Older printers and external drives

USB 1.0/1.1

11 Mbps

Digital cameras, external hard disks and CD/

USB 2.0

480 Mbps

DVD drives, printers and scanners, portable

digital audio players, external audio devices

FireWire

400 Mbps

Digital video cameras, external hard disks and

FireWire 800

800 Mbps

CD/DVD drives, iPod players, external audio devices

USB

USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports are a general-purpose interface designed to overcome the limitations of the serial and parallel ports that were standard on PCs for many years. USB ports operate at much higher speeds than serial or parallel ports and support multiple devices on a single channel.

USB Version 1.1 ports can transfer data at 11 megabits per second. That’s much faster than parallel ports, but not fast enough for transferring your music collection to a hard disk player such as iPod. USB 2.0 ports can move data at a brisk 480 ...

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