Electronic – Difference between UART and RS-232


Most of the time RS-232 and UART come together in serial communication theories. Are they both the same? From my readings I concluded UART is a hardware form of the RS-232 protocol. Am I correct?

Best Answer

No, UART and RS-232 are not the same.

UART is responsible for sending and receiving a sequence of bits. At the output of a UART these bits are usually represented by logic level voltages. These bits can become RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, or perhaps some proprietary spec.

RS-232 specifies voltage levels. Notice that some of these voltage levels are negative, and they can also reach ±15V. Larger voltage swing makes RS-232 more resistant to interference (albeit only to some extent).

A microcontroller UART can not generate such voltages levels by itself. This is done with help of an additional component: RS-232 line driver. A classic example of an RS-232 line driver is MAX232. If you go through the datasheet, you'll notice that this IC has a charge pump, which generates ±10V from +5V.

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