|Digital data is data stored as a
pattern of 1s and 0s. Digital pictures, audio, video, animation, documents, and
so forth, anything stored in the computer is stored as a pattern of 1s and 0s.
Most of the cables we sell are designed to allow computers and equipment to
send these 1s and 0s from one to the other. ASCII is one of the oldest codes in
use that assigns a unique pattern of 1s and 0s to each letter of the alphabet.
When translated to ASCII, our IEC has the following patterns:|
If a computer wanted to print "IEC", it would send
these codes of 1s and 0s to the printer and the printer would translate them
back to the letters to print "IEC".
There are two basic ways to send
the 1s and 0s. One is "Serial" and the other is "Parallel".
| ||Serial Communications is like a
one-lane road, where the 1s and 0s are transmitted in single file. The speed of
transmission is either referred to as the "BAUD" rate (RS232), or simply as
"Bits Per Second" (Ethernet).|
|Parallel Communications is like a multilane expressway, where
the 1s and 0s are transmitted side by side. 8 bit parallel, shown in the
illustration, is somewhat common, but there is also a 16 bit parallel which
would have 16 lanes (think of doubling the size of the illustration, letters
would travel across in pairs instead of each). |
Pros & Cons Parallel has the potential of being
faster. If you observe the illustrations, the IEC seems to get across the
parallel faster then the serial. But Parallel requires more conductors to make
the multilane expressway. It would be quite expensive to run a large
multiconductor cable for a couple hundred feet and so serial is chosen for long
distance runs. As a result, parallel circuits are designed to provide a low
voltage but high speed signal. So now it isn't only expensive to run parallel a
great distance but in many cases the signal is too weak so it won't even
Serial may seem slower, but it's usually cheaper to boost the speed
then it is to make more lanes. 100Base-T is a serial interface that transmits
100 million bits each second, and it's still not the fastest. Fiber optic can
go just about ten to one hundred times faster still. But imagine what it would
be like to bundle eight fiber cables to allow for a parallel type of interface,
you can see how expensive that would be and how much more practical it is to do
serial and use the single cable. Of course, some interfaces are bi-directional
or two way interfaces. Click here to see a better
explanation of "Simplex", "Half-Duplex", and "Full-Duplex".