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  1. #1
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    USB 2.0 intermittent usage (XP SP 2)

    Using XP Home SP2 on my Compaq Presario 2210CA notebook computer. Fully patched. I have a Nikon D80 camera and a LOGiiX USB 2.0 SD card reader. When I connect the D80 directly to the computer using its cable, it works properly as a USB 2.0 device. When I take the SD card out of the camera and use it in the card reader, Windows issues a warning about "... this device will run faster in a USB 2.0 Hub..." Data-transfer rates are severely reduced when running in this mode.

    I followed the advice in Microsoft KB article 873169, and the USB driver version number is reported as 5.1.0.1006 dated 2003-08-28.

    I downloaded and installed USBInfo 2.0 diagnostic utility http://www.usbinfo20.com/ . It provides a graphical view of what's going on with the USB system. The computer reports that it has 3 USB 1.1 controllers and 1 USB 2.0 controller. The computer has 2 physical USB ports. When I connect the D80 camera using it's cable, it is seen to be connected to the USB 2.0 controller. When I use the SD card reader, it connects to the USB 1.1 controller even though the card reader is clearly labelled as a USB 2.0 device.

    Finally -- the question -- Is there any way to force Windows to recognize the SD card reader as the USB 2.0 device that it purports to be?
    --------------------------------------------------
    Jack MacDonald
    Vancouver, Canada

  2. #2
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    Re: USB 2.0 intermittent usage (XP SP 2)

    Have you checked in the Device Manager and found "USB Enhanced Host Controller"? I.e. a Hi-Speed capable controller. And no exclamation marks? And you have tried both ports?

    As for KB873169; it is for a situation, after an upgrade to SP2, were the USB 2.0 drivers appear with earlier version numbers. Did you check before if they did not have the latest version number (although being updated to SP2, as described in KB873169)?

    Anyhow, there can't be any harm in updating the USB drivers, and no risk in installing older drivers (using SP2 CD) since there are no later USB drivers released on SP2. (But there can be some cases when specific drivers are needed if "Enhanced" isn't found on a SP2 system with 2.0 hardware, in your case maybe the Driver Recovery CD?).

    For instance on my XPSP2 system, my "usbehci.sys", enhanced host controller interface, is a SP2 file from August 2004; 5.1.2600.2180. But not all USB files are SP2 dated. Don't know about different notebooks and their specific drivers as mentioned.

    OK, so let's say your Compaq has two USB 2.0 hi-speed ports, then there is only the reader and cable left (as to hardware). Hi-speed cables must be shorter than 3 meters.

    USB 2.0 is a standard, a specification, not a certain data transfer speed. Given that, it is sometimes misleading that the specification's revision number is on the product. That is: USB 2.0 is not synonymous with Hi-Speed USB. Under USB 2.0 you have:

    low, 1.5Mb/s, name "USB".
    full, 12Mb/s, name "USB".
    high, 480Mb/s, name "Hi-Speed USB", NOT High-Speed, or anything else.

    The best way to be certain that a product can work at the highest speed under the USB 2.0 standard is to look for the Certified Hi-Speed USB Logo, as shown on: USB Naming and Packaging Recommendations. Low and full-speed one logo, Hi-Speed USB another logo.

    As for your mentioned card reader; I have looked at the LOGiiX page for their "The Reader 12-in-1 Media Card Reader", it says under features "USB 2.0 card reader & writer". That doesn't give any clues at all about data transfer speed, since the 2.0 standard enclose three speed levels.

    It is described as a: "USB 2.0 high speed media card reader/ writer for Compact Flash I, Compact Flash II, MicroDrive, SmartMedia, MultiMedia Card, RsMMC*, Secure Digital ..."

    I don't want to nitpick, but that isn't an exact description of the speed capabilities either. It can, if on like, be interpreted as working with "high speed media", i.e. the cards (since they comes in different speed ratings). But that is only one interpretation. It may very well be that this is a Hi-Speed USB product, but if so: wouldn't they mention that?

    For their hubs they clearly mention supported transfer rates as "1.5/12/480Mbps" etc. and mention "USB 2.0 High Speed 480Mbps".

    Looking at CoolUSB, selling LOGiiX, for the Hubs they mention "Hi-speed" and mention supported transfer rates (1.5/12/480 Mpbs). But for the reader they say "USB 2.0 high-speed 12-in-1 media card reader/writer" and no mention of transfer rates, same as LOGiiX. But they do use the "Hi-speed" nomenclature for the hubs.

    There is a lot of confusing terminology on products using USB.
    USB Nomenclature Information

  3. #3
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    Re: USB 2.0 intermittent usage (XP SP 2)

    Thanks Argus. That's some good info. Yes, it's enhanced. No yellow exclamation marks. Yes tried both ports. As far as I can tell, the computer is functioning properly.

    I read thru the online resources that you mentioned, and now understand more about USB than I did previously. Unfortunately, nothing has helped with the speed issue. Also, I discarded the original packaging and the retail store has sold out of the particular model. But a comparable Compact Flash reader from the same manufacture definitely uses the "Hi-Speed USB" logo, and I presume that my SD reader does too. From what I read in the documentation, that's the highest seal of approval for USB 2.0.

    Tried the reader in two other computers with the same result. So I decided to return it for a refund. The retailer was not surprised that it reverts to slow speed -- the clerk says that USB is a flakey standard and that any reader that I purchase will perform the same way with my 2 years old computer. Said the fault lies with the USB port on the computers. I told him that my camera works at high speed in the same port where the card reader runs at slow speed. His answer was that the camera is powered while the reader is unpowered and that difference was sufficient to explain why the card reader does not work properly.

    It sounds unlikely to me... The port is capable of HiSpeed and the card reader is labelled as HiSpeed. As far as I can see, this is a manufacturing defect in the card reader. It's a small amount of money to worry about, but it bugs me that the reader doesn't work properly.

    What do you think?
    --------------------------------------------------
    Jack MacDonald
    Vancouver, Canada

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    Re: USB 2.0 intermittent usage (XP SP 2)

    <P ID="edit" class=small>(Edited by Argus on 19-Apr-07 11:19. Added comment about your test.)</P>OK, good that you have not found anything odd on the PC. Of course, as you know, it would be interesting if the PC was tested with (another) Hi-speed device (but the camera or reader).

    Notebooks are sometimes a little different in the drivers area. They need special drivers for some devices. But it seems that you have everything checked.

    At first sight such as message:

  5. #5
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    Re: USB 2.0 intermittent usage (XP SP 2)

    I got some info from the retail store manager that, while not what I wanted to hear, is at least plausible. I've been using a standard-speed SD card in the card reader. It's the weak link in the chain when mounted in the SD card reader, thus making the computer think it's connected to a USB 1.1 device. The camera (Nikon D80) has enough built-in computing power to spoof the capability of the SD card so that the computer *thinks* it is connected to a HiSpeed USB device. Stopwatch testing confirms that downloads are faster from the camera than from the SD card reader, using the same SD card in both devices connected to the same USB port on a single computer. The data on Rob Galbraith's site indicated a 3x speed difference between the slowest and fastest combinations, but I saw differences of 10x.

    Apparent solution is to buy a HiSpeed SD card. Regrettably, the store would not refund my purchase. C'est la guerre...

    Thanks for your help.
    --------------------------------------------------
    Jack MacDonald
    Vancouver, Canada

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