Small Area Network (SAN) FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is a Small Area Network?

Like the familiar Local Area Network (LAN) used to connect computers within an office or building, a Small Area Network (SAN) is used to connect Integrated Circuit (IC) components on a printed circuit board, or within a box or system. Due to its low cost, flexibility, and space saving characteristics, Small Area Networks provide device control, media security, and health monitoring connectivity in electronic products ranging from cell phones, to PCs, to large computer server system.

Small Area Networks typically include one or more master devices that communicate with one or more slave devices using a serial (one bit at a time) protocol over a common wire bus that connects all the devices together. A master can get the attention of a slave device by sending the slave address over the common wire bus, or by applying a signal to separate device select lines.

There are a wide variety of Small Area Networks in use today. These include Inter-Intergrated Circuit Bus (I2C Bus), System Management Bus (SMBus), Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI), 1-Wire, and more. Each bus type offers characteristics such as cost and flexibility that can make it better suited to specific applications.

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