What Does Inter-IC Mean?

An inter-integrated circuit (Inter-IC or I2C) is a multi-master serial bus that connects low-speed peripherals to a motherboard, mobile phone, embedded system or other electronic devices.


Also known as a two-wire interface.

Techopedia Explains Inter-IC

Developed by Phillip Semiconductors in 1980, the I2C was initially designed to lessen costs by streamlining massive wiring systems with an easier interface for connecting a central processing unit (CPU) to peripheral chips in a television. It originally had a battery-controlled interface but later utilized an internal bus system.

In 1992, version 1.0 was the first I2C standardized. By 1995, Intel introduced the system management bus (SMBus), which is derived from the I2C. The SMBus defined firmer protocols for communication with low-bandwidth modules and sometimes supported the I2C that required marginal reconfiguration. The SMBus is comparable to the I2C bus but has different enhanced features such as voltage levels, clock frequency and a preference for an additional interrupt request wire.

Although slower than the majority of buses, the I2C is an inexpensive architecture and is ideal for peripherals that do not require a lot of speed such as digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital controllers, built-in tests, real-time clocks, color balance, tone and volume control.


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Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.