What is a Host Bus Adapter Card?

A Host Bus Adapter (HBA) is a circuit board or integrated circuit adapter that provides physical connectivity between a host system (computer or server) and networks and storage devices. Apart from the physical connectivity, an HBA also performs input/output (I/O) processing. With an HBA, the host computer’s microprocessor doesn’t have to perform data storage and retrieval operations, resulting in a performance boost.

So, what kind of components can be connected with the help of an HBA? Well, you can connect Serial ATA (SATA) devices, Fiber Channels and SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) too. In addition, the component that connects IDE, USB, Ethernet are often referred to as HBAs or simply Host Adapters.

You have heard about the NIC, right? It’s the same card that allows your personal computer to connect to a LAN. Even though a Network Interface Card (NIC) does fit the definition of an HBA, it is not often called an HBA and more commonly referred to as a NIC.

Apart from the physical connectivity, is there any other benefit of using a Host Bus Adapter Card? The answer to this question is pretty straightforward. The HBA card handles all the communication with the connected devices such as SATA or SSCI or any other HBA compatible device. So, the computer doesn’t have to use its internal resources for communicating with the devices, thereby improving the performance of the host computer system.

SCSI Adapters

Now that you have a grasp on what the HBA do, let us discuss the SCSI Host Bus Adapters, also known as SCSI adapter.

From its name, we can already infer that SCSI adapters are used to connect SCSI devices to a host computer. It’s worth mentioning that SCSI adapters allow the host system to boot from the connected SCSI devices. Also, the end user can also configure the connected SCSI device with the help of a driver that is installed in the host computer’s OS. When you connect a number of SCSI devices through the adapter, the SCSI adapter starts issuing commands to the connected devices.

Uses of HBA

Let us take a look at some of the most important uses of an HBA card.

  • Provide a physical connection between a host computer and compatible devices/network.
  • Perform Input/Output processing.
  • Transfer data between the connected devices and the host computer.
  • Free up resources of the host computer by conducting the data storage and retrieval operations on its own.

Role of HBA card in the Embedded Systems development industry

Host Adapters play a very important role in the embedded systems development industry. With the help of Host Bus Adapters, you can seamlessly connect your computer to embedded systems environments and develop, program or debug.

For instance, the Aardvark™ I2C/SPI Host Adapter allows you to interface with your embedded environment through I2C or SPI protocols as a master or a slave.

Programmers who are looking for fast programming can also use Host Adapters to seamlessly develop their applications. The Cheetah™ SPI Host Adapter is one such high-speed adapter with the ability to communicate over SPI at 40+ MHz.

For CAN bus based developmental tasks, embedded engineers use the Komodo™ CAN Duo Interface to inject data on the Bus.

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