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Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitters UARTs are designed to convert sync data from a PC bus to an async format that external I/O devices such as printers or modems use. UARTs insert or remove start bits, stop bits, and parity bits in the data stream as needed by the attached PC or peripheral. They can provide maximum throughput to your high-performance peripherals without slowing down your CPU.
In the early years of PCs and single-application operating systems, UARTs interfaced directly between the CPU bus and external RS-232 I/O devices. Early UARTs did not contain any type of buffer because PCs only performed one task at a time and both PCs and peripherals were slow.
With the advent of faster PCs, higher-speed modems, and multitasking operating systems, buffering (RAM or memory) was added so that UARTs could handle more data. The first buffered UART was the 16550 UART, which incorporates a 16-byte FIFO (First In First Out) buffer and can support sustained data-transfer rates up to 115.2 kbps.
The 16650 UART features a 32-byte FIFO and can handle sustained baud rates of 460.8 kbps. Burst data rates of up to 921.6 kbps have even been achieved in laboratory tests.
The 16750 UART has a 64-byte FIFO. It also features sustained baud rates of 460.8 kbps but delivers better performance because of its larger buffer.
Used in newer PCI cards, the 16850 UART has a 128-byte FIFO buffer for each port. It features sustained baud rates of 460.8 kbps.
The Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI®) Bus enhances both speed and throughput. PCI Local Bus is a high-performance bus that provides a processor-independent data path between the CPU and high-speed peripherals. PCI is a robust interconnect interface designed specifically to accommodate multiple high-performance peripherals for graphics, full-motion video, SCSI, and LANs.
A Universal PCI (uPCI) card has connectors that work with both a newer 3.3-V power supply and motherboard and with older 5.5-V versions.