Data buses are a common feature of computer systems, serving to transfer data between components that are situated on different motherboards, system boards, or computers. Oftentimes, these transfers come in the form of relaying data to and from memory, central processing units (CPUs), and other such components. Additionally, each data bus features its own distinct bandwidth that determines how many data bits can be handled at one time.
In the early days of computer manufacturing, data bus technology was often directly attached to any memory components or peripherals situated on the motherboard. These buses also ran in parallel while having multiple connections, though their direct connection features limited abilities by forcing connected everything to run at the same speed. To remedy this issue, a data bus controller was developed to separate components from the CPU and memory so that CPU speeds could be managed independently of peripheral speeds. By allowing cards to communicate without data passing through the CPU, data transfer rates could be bolstered. Nevertheless, these bus controller devices still require various separated devices to communicate at the same speed, limiting the wider computer system to the speed of the bus itself.
In modern computer systems, both parallel and serial data buses are used, the two types offering different features. With parallel data bus devices, data can be simultaneously transferred across multiple wires that each carry a bit of data at a time. The most common forms of parallel data buses include ATA, PC card, and SCSI variations. As compared to parallel data buses, serial data buses feature a single wire or path where all bits are transferred one after the other. For their types, Universal Serial Bus (USB), FireWire, Serial ATA, and Serial Attached SCSI are all popular options.
With the important role of data bus devices, almost every computer built today will feature both internal and external data buses. The internal data bus is known as the local bus, and this device establishes connection between all motherboard components like the CPU and memory. As these buses are independent of other computer operations, they can perform duties with rapid speed. Meanwhile, external data buses ensure that all peripheral devices can be attached to the motherboard like mice, keyboards, printers, and other such technology. As external data buses vary in their features, one should choose them based on the amount and types of peripherals being added.
Address buses are a somewhat related component, coming in the form of a bus that can specify a physical address. What this means is that when a processor reads or writes data on memory, it will specify the exact location on the address bus. Generally, the amount of memory that a system can address is dependent on the width of the address bus itself. For instance, 32-bit address buses can address upwards of 232 memory locations.
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