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Advantages of I2C | disadvantages of I2C

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of I2C. It mentions I2C advantages or benefits and I2C disadvantages or drawbacks. It also describes I2C interface basics.

What is I2C?

• I2C stands for Inter-Integrated Circuit.
• It uses only two lines between multiple masters and multiple slaves viz. SDA (Serial Data) and SCL (Serial Clock).
• I2C supports various data rates as per versions from 100 Kbps, 400 Kbps, 1 Mbps to 3.4 Mbps
• It is synchronous communication like SPI and unlike UART. Hence there is common clock signal between masters and slaves.
• It uses start and stop bits and ACK bit for every 8 bits of data transfer.
• All the masters can communicate with all the slave devices in I2C interface.

I2C interface diagram

Refer UART vs SPI vs I2C >> and I2C vs I2S >> for more information.

Benefits or advantages of I2C

Following are the benefits or advantages of I2C:
➨More than one master devices can be used in the circuit.
➨I2C requires only two wires for communication unlike SPI which requires four. Hence it minimizes interconnections between ICs due to fewer pins and also fewer PCB tracks. This results into smaller and less expensive PCBs.
➨The addressing is very simple and does not need any CS lines to add extra devices like SPI. Hence addition of any extra device is very easy.
➨It uses open collector bus design and hence there is flexibility to use voltage on the bus. Moreover slew rates are limited.
➨It uses flow control.
➨It is easy to perform diagnosis and debugging. Hence it is easy to trace malfunctionalities.
➨ICs can be added or removed from the hardware without affecting any other circuits on bus.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of I2C

Following are the disadvantages of I2C:
➨The hardware complexity increases when number of master/slave devices are more in the circuit.
➨It is half duplex mode of communication.
➨The protocol is managed by software stack. This increases processing overheads on the µP and µC.

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