The Difference Between Serial & Parallel Data Transfer

Written by keela helstrom
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The Difference Between Serial & Parallel Data Transfer
Data transmission involves data bits. (harddisk image by Victor B from Fotolia.com)

A data transfer operation communicates signals or data bits between two machines. The process requires a sender and a receiver of the data. Serial and parallel data transfer have unique advantages and disadvantages. Learn how these types of data transmission are handled.

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Transfer

Serial communication transfers one data bit at a time, while parallel communication transfers many data bits at a time. Serial communication transmits data bits sequentially, while parallel communication transmits data bits simultaneously allowing larger amounts of data to be transferred.

The Difference Between Serial & Parallel Data Transfer
Data bits can be transferred differently. (serial port image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com)

Advantages

Serial communication requires less wires and cables and is ideal for transferring data over long distances. Parallel data transmission uses more wires causing transmitted signals to become distorted and the data unreliable when communicating over long distances.

The Difference Between Serial & Parallel Data Transfer
Serial communication has advantages in data transmission. (serial adaptor image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com)

Costs

Serial ports require less pins than parallel ports, so the hardware for machines using serial ports is smaller. Parallel transmission requires more wires which results in serial transmission being less costly.

The Difference Between Serial & Parallel Data Transfer
Serial transmission is less costly. (saving image by Lyle Doberstein from Fotolia.com)

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