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To function, hardware requires physical connections that allow components to communicate and interact. A bus provides a common interconnected system composed of a group of wires or circuitry that coordinates and moves information between the internal parts of a computer. A computer bus consists of two channels, one that the CPU uses to locate data, called the address bus, and another to send the data to that address, called the data bus. A bus is characterized by two features: how much information it can manipulate at one time, called the bus width, and how quickly it can transfer these data.

A serial connection is a wire or set of wires used to transfer information from the CPU to an external device such as a mouse, keyboard, modem, scanner, and some types of printers. This type of connection transfers only one piece of data at a time, and is therefore slow. The advantage to using a serial connection is that it provides effective connections over long distances.

A parallel connection uses multiple sets of wires to transfer blocks of information simultaneously. Most scanners and printers use this type of connection. A parallel connection is much faster than a serial connection, but it is limited to distances of less than 3 m (10 ft) between the CPU and the external device.


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