What Is A Serial Protocol Analyzer And What Is It Used For?

cable-wireWhen reading about technology such as serial protocol analyzers, it is easy to be confused. This is a basic guide to the information you need to know about analyzers.

What are Serial Protocol Analyzers?

In a nutshell, they are a non-intrusive serial port sniffer and software. By using a serial protocol analyzer, you have the able to capture and display any data transmitted through serial ports of your computer. The data is captured, decoded and then put into a readable format that is easy. This allows the reader to analysis the data.

Before we go any further, here are some definitions of these words so that this will make more sense. For people who aren’t technologically inclined, this should be helpful.

  • Non-Intrusive: This is a way to scan the system that is being hooked up to the computer. Non-intrusive methods can simply inspect the file system, check for certain values and look for missing security updates.
  • Serial Port: Theses have been integrated into most computers for decades. Some newer computers have done away with them in exchange for USB ports; most computers will still have one serial port for things such as printers, digital cameras and PDAs.

Uses of a Serial Protocol Analyzer

Serial protocol analyzers help computer users quickly fix problems and save time troubleshooting. They are PC-based analyzer that is used for monitoring and testing communication circuits. They are able to:

  • Debug
  • Test and troubleshoot equipment, circuits and software applications
  • Test credit authorization

When connecting an application to a serial port, it is impossible for the user to see what is being transmitted through the port from the device into their computer. Also, it is hard to develop a stable application without a programming that can help with port speeds, synchronizing and buffering.

This is when the use of a serial protocol analyzer comes in use. Depending on the hardware used, they are fully capable of intercepting, logging and analyzing the data being transferred from the device.  Software and hardware developers need to work with serial monitors; they are an invaluable tool.

Serial protocol analyzers are helpful because debugging a communication project for developer scan take time. Decoding is very complicated, and often timing is critical because some programs require response within seconds. The developers must understand the context and the data format. Utilizing a serial protocol analyzer takes away much of the frustration and confusion.

Two Types of Analyzers

There are two options for a serial protocol analyzers – hardware and software. Users often debate which option to pick. Here are the benefits of each kind of analyzer.

  • Benefits of Hardware Analyzer

    • They aren’t dependent on the hardware of the host computer.
    • Hardware can display low-level events.
    • The time-stamping of traffic is more accurate when not depending on a host computer.
    • Hardware can capture data between arbitrary devices such as digital cameras and cell phones.
    • They can debug embedded hosts.
  • Benefits of Software Analyzer

    • They are more user-friendly than hardware analyzers.
    • The features are more useful and powerful.
    • Software analyzers are more cost-effective and convenient; they can be used on multiple computers with the same license.
    • Activation of software analyzers is fast and easy. There isn’t a wait period.

For many developers and software programmers, working with a serial protocol analyzer is like working in the dark or with a blindfold. It is often hard to know what they will be intercepting and decoding, and they must be able to respond quickly. Technology has given them this option that can do all of the decoding and debugging for them. The analyzers can list all of the information, with time stamps, in an easy to read format in a fraction of the time.

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