Multiplexer: What is it? (Working Principle & Applications)

What is a Multiplexer?

A multiplexer (also known as a mux or data selector) is a circuit which can deliver single output from multiple inputs. The inputs to a multiplexer circuit may be Analog or Digital. A multiplexer is useful for sending large amounts of data over a network with a lower bandwidth and time than an equivalent circuit without a multiplexer. A single pole multi-positioned switch is a plain example of a multiplexer which is not having an electronic circuit or components.

But for high speed switching, automatically selecting electronic multiplexers are implemented. Multiplexers that are built from transistors and relays are employed for analog applications. In digital applications, standard logic gates are used to build it. They are also termed as digital multiplexer. The reverse of a multiplexer is known as a demultiplexer.

2 to 1 multiplexer
This circuit selects one of the inputs with the help of control signals and delivers that particular input into a single line as output.
Therefore, it is also termed as data selector. The figure below shows the pin diagram of multiplexer.
pin diagram of multiplexer

4 to 1 Multiplexer

For understanding the multiplexer further, we are selecting a 4-to-1 Multiplexer. There are many others like 2-to-1, 8-to-1, 16-to-1 multiplexers etc. In this multiplexer, the details are the following:

  • Inputs
    As the name indicates, there are 4 input bits. They are D0, D1, D2 and D3.
  • Output
    The number of output is one and is referred as Y.
  • Control Bits
    Two control bits are used here, A and B. This will decide which input bit should have to be selected. The output clearly depends on this control bits.

4 to 1 multiplexer

The multiplexer circuit is shown above. If the condition AB = 00, the top most AND gate is enabled (shown in figure above). At this time, all the other three AND gates are in disabled condition. So, input bit D0 is selected and transmitted as output. Thus, Y = D0.

If the condition AB = 11, every other AND gates are disabled excluding the bottom most AND gate. So, input bit D3 is selected and transmitted as output. Thus, Y = D3.
The examples of multiplexers are IC 74153, IC 45352 (4-to-1 multiplexers), IC 74150 (16-to-1 multiplexer)

Applications of Multiplexer

Multiplexers are implemented in several fields where there is a necessity of transmitting large amount of data with use of single line.

Computer Memory
In computer, the huge quantity of memory is implemented by means of multiplexers. It also has advantage of reduction in number of copper lines which are used for the connection of memory to other parts in the computer.

Communication System
Multiplexer is implemented in this system to increase efficiency. Using a single transmission line, various types of data (video, audio etc) are transmitted at the same instant.

Telephone Network
Here, the multiple audio signals are brought into a single line and transmitted with the implementation of multiplexer. By this method, the numerous audio signals are made isolated and ultimately the recipient will receive the required audio signals.

Computer System of a Satellite Transmission
Multiplexers are implemented for the data signals to be transmitted from space craft or computer system of satellite to the earth by means of GPS.

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