Components for Building Computers From Scratch/USB Switches and Hubs.


Ethernet Switch
Ethernet Switch  
Ethernet Hub
Ethernet Hub  
QUESTION: Dear Bobbert‎‎

Can there be advantages in manufacturing Ethernet based USB Switches and Hubs similar to Ethernet 10/100 MBPS, Gigabit Ethernet switches for sharing computers and peripherals ?.

For example :

24 port Ethernet Switch / Hub having USB Ports on the Device, the Data transfer will be through USB Cables connected from USB Ports
to computers (servers,laptops,workstations,peripherals etc) having USB LAN controllers.

i.e. Comparing data transfer speeds offered by 10/100 MBPS Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet v/s USB technology.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

ANSWER: Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) is faster than conventional USB (by about two-fold), while USB3.0 is theoretically faster. However USB does not support IP networking, only point-to-point connections. It will also incur higher latency. Data transfer cables do exist for simple one-to-one connection, but "USB LAN" does not exist as described. If you need higher performance network connectivity, 10GbE or ganged GbE would be the better choice.

Alternately, FireWire can be used somewhat in the way you've described, and offers lower latency than USB. It is, however, generally cost prohibitive compared to conventional Ethernet. More information:


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Dear Bobbert

Thank you.

Do you feel USB 3.0 technology can overcome this limitations in terms of data transfer speed and distance over Ethernet ?.

i.e. USB 3.0 LAN/MAN/WAN Networks over Ethernet 10/100 MBPS, Gigabit Ethernet Networks.

i.e. USB Cards, USB adapters, USB Cables, USB Hubs, USB Switches, USB Devices etc.

Awaiting your reply,

Thanks & Regards,
Prashant S Akerkar

While SuperSpeed is technically faster (at 5Gbit) than GbE, it is still inferior to 10GbE (which has existed for some time), and there does not exist the infrastructure or back-end support for USB to replace Ethernet as a networking protocol (in other words, Ethernet is both better suited to networking (it was purpose-designed for it), and is widely deployed). What is more likely is a transition to faster grades of Ethernet. GbE is already becoming common among home networking devices (whereas ten years ago it was quite rare and expensive), and 10GbE is probably not a "far off" upgrade, at least for high performance situations.

It's also worth remembering that the transfer bandwidth for a network does not always need to be as high as possible - for example when browsing the Internet, you will be limited by whatever your ISP can give you (and speeds at or above 100Mbit/s are still relatively expensive and rare in most parts of the world). Peer-to-peer communication (for example multi-player LAN gaming, or sharing documents in an office) often does not require the transmission of very large files either, however low latency is often very important (as the saying goes: "very chatty, with not very much to say"), which is an area where Ethernet excels.

USB is better suited to external peripherals, especially for mobile computers, because it is relatively inexpensive and has become fairly universal (as opposed to ten to fifteen years ago, when most computers had to support a half dozen (or more) different I/O protocols to connect to different peripherals). For connecting your camera or keyboard, it's a fantastic interface.


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