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There are many variations of serial data transfer protocols and physical signal specifications. This subject is too broad to be discussed in this short course. Detailed description of various serial data communication will be studied in another short course. A very brief introduction to serial data transfer is given here.

Serial data transfer can be full duplex or half duplex. Full duplex requires two data lines, one for sending data and one for receiving data. Half duplex requires only one data line. The data line is used for sending data at certain times and receiving data at other times. Extra information needs to be sent between two sides to coordinate who should send at what time in half duplex data transfer.