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As expected, Intel Corp revealed its plans for the next major upgrade to its USB Universal Serial Bus yesterday, along with its three original partners and three new ones. Intel, along with Compaq Computer Corp, Microsoft Corp and NEC Corp, formed the core development team of USB 1.1. For USB 2.0, which is expected to extend performance by 10 to 20 times over existing capabilities; they are joined by Hewlett-Packard Co, Lucent Technologies Inc and Philips Electronics. The specification is expected to reach its 0.9 release by the third quarter of this year, extending the capabilities of the interface from 12 Mbps on USB 1.1 to between 120-to240 Mbps on USB 2.0. It should be both forward- and backward-compatible with the original USB, and is expected to supercede it. The first products are likely to appear mid-2000. Like USB 1.1, it will eventually be embedded within industry chipsets. Pointedly, given the recent fuss over Apple Computer Inc’s 1394 FireWire high-speed serial interface, the core developer companies say they don’t intend to charge royalties for essential patents. The new version will increase the clash between USB and FireWire, though Intel says USB will support the full range of peripherals, while FireWire will target just audio visual consumer electronic devices. Intel says it will continue to support FireWire, so long as the licensing issues currently under review are solved satisfactorily.

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