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Advantages of I2S bus | disadvantages of I2S bus

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of I2S bus and I2S protocol working. It mentions benefits or advantages of I2S bus and drawbacks or disadvantages of I2S bus.

The I2S interface is initially used in CD player designs. It can now be found in almost any applications in which digital audio data is being transferred between ICs. I2S interface is used in most of the audio ADCs, DACs, DSPs, and sample rate converters and microcontrollers.

What is I2S bus?

I2S stands for Inter-IC Sound used to connect digital audio devices together. I2S bus consists of three line serial bus. It comprises of serial data ("SD"), word select line ("WS") and clock line ("SCK"). Serial data is transmitted using 2's complement format with MSB first.

I2S configurations

The figure-1 depicts various configurations of I2S bus used for digital audio data flow between the various ICs. An IC with I2S port can either be set in master mode or slave mode.

I2S interface timing

The figure-2 depicts I2S bus interface timing diagram. Word select line indicates channel being transmitted. WS may change either on trailing edge or leading edge of the serial clock.
• WS = 0; channel 1 (Left)
• WS = 1; channel 2 (Right)

Benefits or advantages of I2S bus

Following are the benefits or advantages of I2S bus:
➨It uses separate clock and serial data lines. Hence it has simple receiver designs compare to asynchronous systems.
➨I2S bus has single master device and hence there are no issues with data synchronization.
➨I2S output based microphone does not require analog front end. This is used in wioeless microphone with digital transmitter. Using this, one can have completely digital connection between transducer and transmitter.
➨It uses separate data and clock lines and hence it results in very low jitter.
➨It delivers fully digital audio signal chain. Hence it eliminates ADC/DACs and pre-amplifier usually found in traditional audio chain as shown in the figure-3 below.

traditional audio chain vs all digital audio chain

Drawbacks or disadvantages of I2S bus

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of I2S bus:
➨It is not intended for data transfer via cables.
➨I2S protocol will have synchronization problem between SCK, WS and data signal lines. This is observed at high sampling frequency and bit rate. This is due to difference of propagation delays between clock line and data line.
➨It does not have error detection mechansm. Hence it can cause error in data decoding.
➨There is no standard interconnecting cable and connectors for I2S bus. Different manufacturers use different connectors.
➨It is used for inter-IC communication on the same PCB.
➨Some ICs support maximum 32 or 48 bit clocks per stereo audio frame. System designers need to be careful in interfacing two ICs with different bit clock rates.

Also refer advantages and disadvantages of UART, SPI and I2C >> and difference between I2C and I2S >> for more information.

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