What is a USB Analyzer

USB Analyzer


In this article, we will be talking about what is a USB Analyzer, how it works, and examples of this type of analyzer.

What is a USB Analyzer

USB analyzer monitors the USB ports and analyzes the activities of USB. A USB analyzer offers a simple but complete view for analyzing and monitoring any activity of the USB. It can intercept, track record, display them and analyze any kind of in or outgoing data between the USB device plugged in the USB port of computer and application of computer. A USB analyzer comes in two types which are USB analyzers consisting of only software that is to be installed in the PC or machine while the second ones are analyzers based on hardware having installed software.

A USB analyzer works in real-time. It can analyze the data of USB devices connected to a computer. You can see the data in the raw form as well as it can be seen as a readable text after decoding the raw form for convenience purpose. 

USB analyzer is an effective way of monitoring the number of USB devices connected in the USB ports of computer or any machine and show them to you on the display. Similarly, if anyone wants to monitor more than one USB at the same time separately can simply create sessions according to the number of devices he wants to monitor separately.

USB analyzer analyzes the traffic of the USB in real-time by intercepting the USB Request Blocks (URBs), Input/ Output Request Packets (IRPs), and Input/ Output Control codes (IOCTLs). The analyzed data can be saved by the USB monitor in a binary file for later use and can be exported to various forms such as plain text, XML, and HTML formats. USB analyzer can display brief information after monitoring each packet and the deep analysis can be seen after selecting the packet of your interest.

A USB analyzer can filter the captured data. Through filtering of USB analyzer, the data that is required to be displayed is shown dynamically while the unnecessary data is hidden after applying the filter. A USB analyzer can be considered as a switch between the ingoing data and the outgoing data. While using a USB analyzer one should not worry about that data coming in or out to the USB as this job is automatically done by the USB analyzer.

Comparison of Hardware Analyzer and Software Analyzer

There are certain advantages of a hardware-based analyzer over a software-based analyzer. First of all, the Hardware-based analyzer monitors the USB non-intrusively as it is not part of the bus itself. Software analyzers are dependent on the hardware in which they are installed. Software analyzers are unable to display low-level events and bus states, for instance, reset, resume or stop events, retransmission or transmission errors, and negotiation at high speed. The hardware analyzers can stamp the time of USB traffic up to the accuracy level of nano-seconds. Software analyzers are dependent on the time precision on the host hardware or the system in which the software is functional which leads the software analyzer to be thousands of times less accurate and precise as compare to the hardware analyzer. One other disadvantage of the software analyzers is that they can only monitor the USB traffic on the computer or machine they are installed. They are unable to capture any kind of data between any random USB host and device. Also, Software analyzers are mostly compatible only with Microsoft Windows. Last but not least they cannot perform well in embedded hosts debugging.  

Examples of USB Analyzers

Examples of the top three USB analyzers are as given below:

Voyager M4x:

Voyager M4x is one of the most trusted and accurate USB analyzers in the industries which supports USB4, USB 3.2 as well as support testing of Thunderbolt 3 and its verification. Voyager company has been producing USB analyzers for long to overcome the problems related to analyzing of USB and confirms interoperability for the USB systems of the coming generation. It has one of the best probe design and has unmatched accuracy while device testing at 40 Gb/s average speed. It uses the CATC trace analysis software which has the standard display and displays all packets in a single view. It can be used in active and passive cables and is compatible in both environments.

Mercury T2:

It is the smallest hardware in the industry for analyzing USB 2.0. It supports USB signaling at all levels from low to hi-speed.  It is a low-cost USB 2.0 analyzer and has advanced capability of debugging with the standard Computer Access Technology Corporation (CATC) display. It can be used in any place and is not limited to a lab environment. The software can be installed within minutes after which an individual can view the USB It is powered by bus and can be controlled using any PC. Some of the features of the Mercury T2 are trace analysis software which makes it capable of fast interpretation and debugging USB traffic. It has a recording capacity of 256 Megabyte which extends its capability of capturing windows and data truncation in real-time. It has an advanced triggering feature that isolates key traffic and specific data patterns. Furthermore, it has the features of intelligent reporting and sophisticated viewing.

Advisor T3:

Advisor T3 is another recommended USB analyzer that is ultraportable and has been well-known for its accuracy. It is a USB 2.0/3.0 Analyzer. It has almost all the features of debugging USB devices at super speed. It is compatible with Windows Vista, Windows XP, and Windows 7. It has a compact size.  It has also the feature of the spool to disk capture which makes it a good choice for software drivers testing and analyzing the performance of the system. Like the above 2, this analyzer also has Trace analysis software of CATC. It has a recording capacity of 2GB. It is one of the cheapest yet reliable industry‚Äôs USB 3.0 analyzer. The Advisor T3 USB 2.0 model is upgradeable to USB 3.0 which makes it a flexible choice while considering USB analyzers.

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