What are the tradeoffs of using RS-232 vs. GPIB in my test and measurement system?
The RS-232 interface bus is the slowest, since data is transferred in a serial fashion, one bit at a time over a single line. RS-232 interfacing is, on the other hand, inexpensive. It's also good for long distances, and is available on all computers. Some test and measurement instruments might limit data transfer to ASCII characters only, however, which limits the number of readings that can be transferred across the bus.
The GPIB or IEEE-488 interface bus is much faster, as data is transferred in a parallel mode. Instruments tied to a computer with a GPIB interface can transfer data either using an ASCII or binary format. Transferring data in binary format improves test performance by decreasing the time it takes an instrument to transfer data across the bus, compared to ASCII. GPIB Interfaces, on the other hand, are extra components that must be installed in the computer. The IEEE-488 standard also puts limitations on cable length, but 1.5 MB/sec transfer rates are possible.
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