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In consumer electronics, telecommunications and industrial electronics, there are often many similarities between seemingly unrelated designs. For example,
- Some intelligent control, usually a single-chip microcontroller
- General-purpose circuits like LCD drivers, remote I/O ports, RAM, EEPROM, or data converters
- Application-oriented circuits such as digital tuning and signal processing circuits for radio and video systems, or DTMF generators for telephones with tone dialing.
To exploit these similarities to the benefit of both systems designers and equipment manufacturers, as well as to maximize hardware efficiency and circuit simplicity, Philips developed a simple bi-directional 2-wire bus for efficient inter-IC control. This bus is called the Inter IC or I2C-bus.which is particularly attractive to designers.I2C-bus compatible ICs allow a system design to rapidly progress directly from a functional block diagram to a prototype. Moreover, since they ‘clip’ directly onto the I2C-bus without any additional external interfacing, they allow a prototype system to be modified or upgraded simply by ‘clipping’ or ‘unclipping’ ICs to or from the bus. The I2C-bus is a multi-master bus. This means that more than one device capable of controlling the bus can be connected to it. Masters are usually micro-controllers and provide the necessary control signals for the I2C protocol.