What is a USB Host Controller?

A Universal Serial Bus (USB) host controller is an interface that allows enabled hardware to interact and communicate with certain software. The USB connection is a standard input and output port with most computers and a variety of other digital equipment that allow data to be transmitted via a cable or any other form of direct connection. A USB host controller manages communication between peripheral devices and the computer system. Most modern computers have high-speed host controllers, and many older computers may have a host controller easily installed in an open slot on their motherboard.

A USB cable.

A high-speed USB host controller maintains a connection between devices such as a keyboard, mouse, modem, or printer and ensures that the computer’s operating system recognizes the device. The operating system relies on the USB host controller to avoid installing individual drivers for each connected device. Each USB device communicates with the computer’s operating system in a standard programming language such as C++.

USB cables are used to connect devices – such as printers, keyboards and music players – to computers.

There are several types of USB host controller interface that support different types of USB ports. Open Host Controller Interface (OHCI) is the default for most and even supports USB 1.1. Intel® Universal Host Controller Interface (UHCI) supports USB 1 at fast and slow speeds. Other types of host controller interfaces include the enhanced host controller interface (EHCI), which is rated super fast by publicly specified standards, and the newer host controller standard, called the Extensible Host Controller Interface (xHCI). ). xHCI is designed for greater speed, power and efficiency than its predecessors.

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Recognition of standard devices such as keyboard and mouse by the operating system is usually done automatically by the host controller. The host controller protocol combines the communication process of multiple devices to create simultaneous and efficient data transfer. A good example is when a computer user enters data into a word processing program using a keyboard and mouse at the same time.

A USB host controller is capable of communicating between the computer and multiple devices through a single port. The host controller also determines how each connected device gets power, which is why a user can charge a cell phone through one USB port while listening to music from a USB stick on another port. For older computers without a USB host controller, hardware can be purchased from vendors and installed into a slot on the motherboard fairly quickly.

Many host controllers are backwards compatible, so a USB 3.0 device can be used in a USB 2.0 port.

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