What is a Multiplexer, its Types and Applications, Multiplexing

In this article, we will discuss what is a multiplexer ? And what is multiplexing entails, the types of multiplexers, how multiplexers work, and also the advantages and disadvantages of multiplexers. This tutorial serves as your comprehensive guide to understanding the applications of a multiplexer.


It is essential for transmitting two or more digital signals across a single line in large digital systems, with only one signal on the line at any given time. To resolve this, one can use a device called a multiplexer, a circuit that simplifies the selection of which signal to put on a shared line. Selecting an input from ‘n‘ input lines and sending it to a single output line is the main job of a multiplexer.

To put it simply, a digital logic circuit known as a multiplexer (MUX) combines several input signals into a single output signal. To do this, it uses control inputs to pick one signal from a pool of inputs, “multiplexing” the signal by combining or selecting multiple data streams into a unified output stream.

What is a Multiplexer

What is a Multiplexer – A multiplexer, often referred to as a data selector, is a specialized device capable of managing several inputs and producing a singular output. In this context, the number of input lines is 2^n, while the output lines are limited to 1. Here, the term ‘n‘ represents the total count of selection lines. Functioning as a combinational circuit, the multiplexer yields a solitary output despite accepting multiple data inputs.

It is an electronic tool designed to merge various analog and digital signals into a unified signal. This merging process is termed multiplexing. Additionally, one can employ a multiplexer to select a specific input signal from several options and route it to an output port. Multiplexers find widespread application in communication systems, such as phone networks and satellite television. They facilitate efficient data transfer by enabling the simultaneous utilization of multiple channels or frequencies on a single communication line.

What is a Multiplexing

The multiplexing process involves a technique for transmitting diverse digital input signals, analog signals, or data streams through a solitary channel. This method essentially consolidates numerous low-speed channels into a single high-speed channel for transmission purposes. It efficiently utilizes the high-speed channel to accommodate various signals. Let’s continue discussing Multiplexing in brief.

What is a Multiplexing – In networking, multiplexing serves to merge numerous digital or analog signals into a singular composite signal for transmission through a common medium like a fiber optic cable or radio wave. At the receiving end, demultiplexing is carried out to separate and recover the original signals, making them available for further processing.

Types of Multiplexer

Here are some common types of Multiplexer, which are classified into four types:

2-1 Multiplexer

It has one select line, enabling it to choose between two input channels. It then directs the chosen input to the output line. It’s a fundamental building block in digital circuits, offering a simple selection between two data sources. In a 2-1 multiplexer, there are two input lines, labeled A0 and A1, along with a single selection line, denoted as S0. The multiplexer has a sole output line, designated as Y. Depending on the specific combination of inputs present at the selection line S0, one of the two inputs will be linked to the output. The block diagram for the 2-1 multiplexer are provided below.

2-1 Mux

4-1 Multiplexer

The 4-1 multiplexer, with four input bits (0, D1, D2, D3) and control bits AB, uses AND gates to dynamically select one input based on AB values. For instance, with AB=00, higher AND gates activate, transmitting D0 to ‘q.’ This versatile circuit, exemplified by ICs like 74153 and 45352, allows controlled data routing. Changing AB to 11 deactivates higher gates, transmitting D3 to ‘q.’ These examples highlight the 4-1 multiplexer’s flexibility and utility in digital circuits, providing diverse input selections and corresponding output transmissions based on control bit values.

4-1 mux


8-1 Multiplexer

The 8-1 multiplexer, with three select lines, handles eight input channels, enhancing data stream control in digital systems. Common in scenarios requiring diverse inputs, it comprises 8 input lines, one output line, and 3 selection lines. Utilizing 8 AND gates and an OR gate, it operates based on select line combinations. When a select line activates, a specific AND gate outputs 1, while others yield 0. The OR gate consolidates these outputs, ensuring accurate selection and transmission of the desired input in digital circuit data routing.

8-1 Mux


16-1 Multiplexer

The 16-1 multiplexer, equipped with four select lines, is designed to handle a more extensive range of input channels, allowing it to select and route data from sixteen different sources. This type of multiplexer is suitable for applications with a substantial number of input options, offering a comprehensive solution for data management. The 16-1 multiplexer involves 16 inputs (A0, A1, …, A15), 4 selection lines (S0, S1, S2, S3), and a single output (Y). The combination of inputs at selection lines S0, S1, and S2 determines the output connection. Depending on this combination, the output links to one of the 16 inputs. The block diagram and truth table illustrate the functionality of the 16-1 multiplexer, showcasing its capacity to selectively transmit a specific input to the output based on the selected combination of control lines.

 16-1 Mux

Advantages of Multiplexer

Multiplexers are really helpful in digital circuits, playing a crucial role in electronic systems due to their numerous advantages. Here are several Advantages of Multiplexer:

  • Cost and Complexity Reduction: It reduce circuit costs and complexity by combining multiple inputs into a single output, simplifying system architecture and saving on materials and manufacturing. This is the core Advantages of Multiplexer.
  • Versatile Combination Circuit Implementation: It enable diverse combination circuits by integrating multiple input signals, allowing complex circuit configurations to meet specific application needs.
  • Elimination of K-Maps and Simplification: Unlike some methods requiring Karnaugh maps, multiplexers operate without them, streamlining design and promoting a straightforward, efficient circuit implementation process. It provide more advantages of multiplexer.
  • Low Heat Dissipation: It minimize the dissipation of heat due to the analog switching current, which typically ranges from 10mA to 20mA.
  • Simplification of Logic Design: It simplify logic design in digital systems, handling multiple inputs and directing them to a single output for a streamlined, straightforward, and comprehensible logic structure.

In summary, the advantages of multiplexer extend from reducing wiring complexities and lowering costs to enhancing system reliability and enabling versatile combination circuit designs.

Disadvantages of Multiplexer

While multiplexers offer various advantages in digital circuitry, it’s essential to acknowledge their inherent limitations and drawbacks. The disadvantages of multiplexer include:

  • Propagation Delays: Incorporating multiplexers introduces additional delays within switching ports and I/O signals. These delays, stemming from the internal processes of the multiplexer, can have implications for the overall speed and efficiency of data transmission within the system.
  • Limitations on Simultaneous Port Usage: Inherent constraints on the ports that can be utilized simultaneously come with multiplexers. This limitation may impact the concurrent handling of multiple data streams, potentially restricting the flexibility of the system in managing simultaneous inputs.
  • Increased Firmware Complexity: Addressing the switching of ports within a multiplexer can necessitate the introduction of complex firmware. The intricacies involved in managing port switching, especially in scenarios with a large number of inputs, contribute to the overall complexity of the firmware implementation.
  • Control Overhead: The controlling mechanism of a multiplexer often requires the use of additional I/O ports. While these ports are essential for managing the selection and transmission of data, they also introduce an additional layer of control overhead, potentially impacting the overall efficiency of the system.

In summary, the disadvantages of multiplexer revolve around issues such as propagation delays, limitations on simultaneous port usage, increased firmware complexity, and the need for additional I/O ports for control.

How do Multiplexer Works?

A multiplexer (mux) works by combining multiple input signals into a single output. Here how do Multiplexer works – Multiplexer can be used as in digital electronics to transmit multiple data streams over a shared communication line. The basic functionality of a multiplexer involves selecting one of the input signals and allowing it to pass through to the output.

How do Multiplexer Works?


Here’s a general overview of how do multiplexer works:

  1. Input Signals: It has multiple input lines, each carrying a distinct signal. These input signals could be data streams, digital signals, or any form of information.
  2. Select Lines: It has select lines (also known as control lines or address lines) that determine which input signal will be routed to the output. The number of select lines determines how many input lines the multiplexer can handle.
  3. Binary Encoding: The binary encoding of the select lines determines which input line is active. For example, if there are two select lines, there are four possible combinations (00, 01, 10, 11), allowing the multiplexer to choose from up to four input lines.
  4. Selection and Routing: It uses the binary input on the select lines to choose one of the input signals. The selected input signal is then routed to the output.
  5. Output: The output of the multiplexer carries the signal from the selected input line. This consolidated signal is then transmitted to the next stage of the circuit or system.

Applications of Multiplexer

Multiplexers play a pivotal role in diverse applications where the efficient transmission of multiple data streams over a single line is paramount. Here are some of Applications of Multiplexer where multiplexers play a significant role:

  • Networking Applications: Networking solutions leverage multiplexers, notably in devices like Ethernet switches. These multiplexers enable multiple devices to communicate on the same network by adeptly selecting the appropriate communication line for each device. This ensures efficient and organized data exchange in network environments.
  • Audio-Video Broadcasting: In audio-visual broadcasting, multiplexers play a pivotal role in receiving channels from different satellite transponders concurrently. Achieving this involves a single receiver box with its antenna directed toward a single satellite dish. Multiplexers can be used as individual receivers pointing in various directions, optimizing the reception process.
  • Automotive Applications: Automotive engineering uses multiplexing technology to amalgamate signals from a vehicle’s sensors and controllers into a unified digital signal. This consolidated signal facilitates communication over the onboard computer network, contributing to streamlined data management within the vehicle.
  • Line Sharing in Telephone Networks: Telephone networks utilize multiplexers for efficient line sharing between different devices, such as fax machines and telephones. Integrating multiplexers into complex network configurations allows for the prioritization of line access among various devices, optimizing communication and resource utilization.
  • Computer Memory: Multiplexers find application in computer memory systems to manage extensive memory capacities efficiently. They contribute to the reduction of copper lines needed to connect memory components to various parts of the computer. This streamlined connectivity enhances the overall performance and manageability of computer memory.

In essence, the versatile applications of multiplexer extends to communication systems, computer memory management, telephone networks, and the transmission of data from satellite computer systems.

Harshvardhan Mishra

Hi, I'm Harshvardhan Mishra. Tech enthusiast and IT professional with a B.Tech in IT, PG Diploma in IoT from CDAC, and 6 years of industry experience. Founder of HVM Smart Solutions, blending technology for real-world solutions. As a passionate technical author, I simplify complex concepts for diverse audiences. Let's connect and explore the tech world together! If you want to help support me on my journey, consider sharing my articles, or Buy me a Coffee! Thank you for reading my blog! Happy learning! Linkedin

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