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Differential signalling

Method for electrically transmitting information / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Differential signalling is a method for electrically transmitting information using two complementary signals. The technique sends the same electrical signal as a differential pair of signals, each in its own conductor. The pair of conductors can be wires in a twisted-pair or ribbon cable or traces on a printed circuit board.

A signal transmitted differentially. Notice the increased amplitude at the receiving end.

Electrically, the two conductors carry voltage signals which are equal in magnitude, but of opposite polarity. The receiving circuit responds to the difference between the two signals, which results in a signal with a magnitude twice as large.

The symmetrical signals of differential signalling may be referred to as balanced, but this term is more appropriately applied to balanced circuits and balanced lines which reject common-mode interference when fed into a differential receiver. Differential signalling does not make a line balanced, nor does noise rejection in balanced circuits require differential signalling.

Differential signalling is to be contrasted to single-ended signalling which drives only one conductor with signal, while the other is connected to a fixed reference voltage.