I have a laptop which has one USB 2.0 host controller and one USB 3.0 host controller. I have many USB 2.0 devices connected (both to USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports) and I am experiencing bandwidth issues.

So here is my question: is it possible, either via hardware or software, to convert one of the USB 2.0 signal to a true USB 3.0 signal, that would be directed to the USB 3.0 host controller ? I do not see a fundamental reason why it should not be possible but I have been unable to find a solution on the internet.

Note that I am aware that USB 3.0 ports split 2.0 and 3.0 signals, and that this answer to a related question does not answer my question.

More details

The current layout is:

camera + other devices (all USB 2.0) -> USB 3.0 hub -> laptop USB 3.0 port

The layout I am thinking about (I would like to separate the camera because it uses the most bandwidth):

USB 2.0 camera -> translate to USB 3.0 --
                                        |
                       USB 2.0 devices ---> USB 3.0 hub -> laptop USB 3.0 port

The laptop is a Dell XPS 13. The hub is a 7-ports USB 3.0 Exsys EX-1188HMS.

A screenshot of the PCI bus section of the Device Manager:

  • Can you post a screenshot how your devices look like in device manager? (steps described in your refferred answer) – Máté Juhász Nov 10 '17 at 10:19
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    I don't understand what you are thinking of doing, but there won't be a software solution. Older laptops had PCMCIA ports, but they are less common now: if you have one, you can use it to add one of two additional ports. Otherwise, try a USB3 hub. – AFH Nov 10 '17 at 10:27
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    I added the details you asked for in my question, hopefully it is more clear now. I actually just found a device that looks like it would fit the bill: USB 3.0 transaction translator. It is not clear whether it can be purchased though. – Thibaud Ruelle Nov 10 '17 at 13:01
  • Yes, you would need an USB 3.0 to USB 2.0 transaction translator (or a hub with enough of those built in), but I've never seen any actual devices you can buy for those. A cheap embedded computer (RaspPi) with an USB 3.0 in client/OTG mode, and other USB 2.0 ports would also work (if you have the expertise to program it so it forwards the USB transactions. Another option is to move some of your devices to a LAN, if they can. – dirkt Nov 10 '17 at 13:35
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    In principle a single USB 3.0 OTG port should be enough, because it uses completely different root controllers. So put the xhci into client mode, the ehci into host mode, and solder a cable that separates the lines. Worth a try. But I still think USB to LAN would be simpler, either directly (camera on LAN), or using usbip if necessary. – dirkt Nov 10 '17 at 13:49

The answer is pretty simple and straight-forward. No, this cannot be done. USB Ports are wired directly into the USB Controller. You would need to remove the internal cable to the USB Controller, so the USB Port itself is not attached to anything, then also do the same for the USB 3.0 port. Then attach a USB 3.0 2 port hub to the USB controller of the USB 3.0 port, and connect both USB ports to that hub.

You will obviously not have the space inside the device to do this, so you will automatically come to the next best thing. Use a 3.0 USB hub outside of the device, but that does not answer your question, so that's why I have started with: no, this cannot be done.

I guess, if you could actually remove the USB 2.0 controller and replace it with a USB 3.0 controller, it could work, but the USB3.0 controller may be bigger than the 2.0 controller. Do note, this will stop you from being able to connect usb 1.1 devices, because 2.0 devices are usually backwards compatible to 1.1, and possibly 1.0 devices, but 3.0 devices are usually only backwards compatible to 2.0.

  • Thanks for your answer. I apparently did not express my question very clearly. I am OK with an external device that would convert a USB 2.0 signal into a USB 3.0 signal. I am basically trying to use the USB 3.0 controller in my laptop as a second USB 2.0 controller. – Thibaud Ruelle Nov 10 '17 at 13:03
  • A USB Hub makes 1 port to more. So my idea is that you use an external hub to make from 1 USB port, more than one, eg. 4. – LPChip Nov 10 '17 at 13:21
  • Unfortunately, this doesn't increase the bandwidth, which is ultimately limited by the bandwidth of the USB controller (480 Mb/s) in the case of a USB 2.0 controller. – Thibaud Ruelle Nov 10 '17 at 13:33
  • Yep, which is why I started with: no, this cannot be done. – LPChip Nov 10 '17 at 14:19

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