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A computer is nothing far from a digital city. It is a construction of various devices that work together to function as a singular unit. Like cities, that have roadways for transportation, computers use pathways, like a data bus, to transmit information, or data from one component to the other. 

Early Days 

Back in the early days, components, such as the RAMs and CPUs, didn’t use to be inside a single IC board. You could find them in spate individual cabinets instead. The information traveled from one cabinet to another, with the help of wire bundles, that people otherwise call, a bus bar.  

This bus bar later developed the name, “bus”. You can find two main designs of a bus, it can either consist of one or multiple lanes. Each lane is a single wire connection, and the data travels differently according to the number of lanes. 

The Architecture of the Data Bus 

The data bus is Bi-directional, meaning that it can allow the flow of data in two directions. A parallel bus is one that uses multiple different lanes to transmit information. These lanes align parallel to each other, and before the information passes, it breaks down into smaller pieces and is distributed amongst each lane.

This works incredibly well for situations in which you have to transfer a memory address. The parallel bus is impractical in modern computers. This is because as the number of lanes increases, so do space requirements, which ultimately means that you will need to have a bigger circuit. 

Anything that contributes to increasing the size of a computer is, therefore, undesirable in the modern age of portability and compact computing devices. To keep circuits small, multiplexers became the important featured busses. 

What this does, is divide a 32-bit address into two halves and then transmit them into two clock cycles by a 16-bit bus. This was a revelation, that not only increased the processing speed of the computer but at the same time required much less space, keeping devices relatively small. 

Serial Bus 

Not all devices will look to multiple-lane solutions when transmitting data.  Some even have functions that send one bit at a time across a singular lane. A serial bus will only use one lane to transmit multiple data. 

Initially, serial data buses did not have a place in practical computing. They were slower than parallel buses, and you could only use them for long-distance communications. As time progressed, alongside technology, transmission speeds and signal integrity started to improve. 

When you combine that with the weakness of parallel buses being prone to electromagnetic interference, you can understand why serial data buses are the transmission mechanism of the future. 

The Computer Bus

The design of the data bus has seen plenty of changes over the years. What first was just a huge of bundle of wires and separate cabinets, are now small integrations and sophisticated connections between microprocessors and motherboards.  

As computer systems started to get smaller and smaller, faster and more efficient bus architectures began their implementation. The CPU was a first breakthrough away from the system bus that used the Northbridge, and the Southbridge for communication between components. 

This arrangement gave certain components priority over others. This arrangement made computing systems efficient and faster. 

To Conclude 

Data buses are essential to computing systems, just like how a good transport system is to cities. Their presence allows for a unified ecosystem in the computer, which functions as a single unit. As technology advances, the design and functionality of the data bus is set for an evolutionary course.  Contact us to help with this or any questions you have about your next project!