Discover the Daisy Chain SPI: Advantages and Applications


In the world of electronics and digital communications, the SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface) protocol stands out for its flexibility and speed. However, when it comes to connecting multiple devices, the typical SPI configuration can quickly become a headache in terms of cabling and resource management. This is where the concept of SPI Daisy Chain comes in, an elegant method that revolutionizes the management of serial peripherals, offering an alternative that is both efficient and economical. This article explores the distinct advantages of Daisy Chain SPI over the conventional configuration, highlighting the innovations it brings to the design of complex electronic systems.

I. Operation of the classic SPI

Classic SPI uses synchronous communication between a controller and multiple peripherals, involving COPI (Controller Output, Peripheral Input) and CIPO (Controller Input, Peripheral Output) lines, as well as a clock line (SCLK) and a chip selection (CS: Chip Select). Each device requires its own CS line, which can make managing connections more complex as more devices are added. For a more in-depth understanding of the differences between communication protocols, including SPI, see our comparison article on ParlezVousTech.

While traditional SPI has some limitations in terms of device management and cabling complexity, the Daisy Chain SPI principle offers an elegant solution to these challenges. Now let's explore this advanced setup, which simplifies connecting multiple devices while maintaining the efficiency of the SPI protocol.

II. Principle of the Daisy Chain SPI

In the SPI Daisy Chain, devices are interconnected in series through a single chip select (CS) line, creating a chain. Unlike traditional SPI where each device requires its own CS line, this configuration allows data to flow sequentially from one device to another. Each device receives data from the controller, processes it, then passes it to the next device in the chain. This significantly reduces the number of connections required, simplifying system design. Additionally, Daisy Chain SPI makes it easy to add or remove devices without disrupting the entire network, providing increased flexibility in managing hardware resources. This method also improves signal integrity by minimizing potential interference, a significant advantage for systems requiring high communication reliability.

III. Advantages of the Daisy Chain over the classic SPI

Daisy Chain SPI offers several advantages over conventional SPI, including a significant reduction in wiring complexity and associated costs because it requires fewer chip select (CS) lines to connect multiple devices. This setup also makes it easy to add or remove devices without requiring a complete system reorganization. Additionally, Daisy Chain SPI improves signal integrity over long distances, reducing the chance of interference and increasing the reliability of communication between the controller and peripherals.

IV. Disadvantages of the Daisy Chain

Disadvantages of Daisy Chain SPI include a potential reduction in data transmission speed, as each device in the chain can introduce delay. Error handling and device failure detection can also be more complex because data must pass through multiple points before reaching its final destination. Additionally, designing and debugging Daisy Chain systems can be more complex than typical SPI configurations, requiring careful attention to communication sequence and signal integrity.

V. Comparison table between classic SPI and Daisy Chain

To clarify the choice between the classic SPI and the Daisy Chain, a comparative table is essential. It highlights the fundamental differences and helps understand how each configuration fits various design needs. Add to this the aspect of software implementation, a crucial criterion for developers when selecting a communication protocol.

CriterionSPI ClassicSPI Daisy Chain
Wiring complexityHigh, requires one CS line per deviceReduced, a single CS line is enough
Device ManagementDirect but becomes complex with multiple devicesSimplified, even with the addition of peripherals
Transmission speedHigh, stable regardless of the number of devicesMay decrease with increasing number of devices
System flexibilityRestrictive, limited by available GPIOsHigh, facilitating modifications and extensions
Signal integrityRisk of interference with multiple connectionsImproved in series configurations
Software implementationRelatively simple for basic configurationsRequires precise device sequence management

This table summarizes key considerations, making it easier to decide whether to use a classic SPI architecture or a Daisy Chain configuration depending on the specifics of the project.

VI. Daisy Chain SPI Implementation Example

In our example implementation of Daisy Chain SPI with a controller and three peripherals, data transmission occurs over several clock cycles, each consisting of 8 clock pulses, illustrating the sequential propagation of bytes across the peripherals.

Detailed Transmission Sequence
  • First cycle of 8 clocks : The controller sends 0xCF. During this cycle, 0xCF is loaded into device 1.
  • Second cycle of 8 clocks : The controller sends 0xAB. Meanwhile, 0xCF moves from device 1 to device 2, while 0xAB is loaded into device 1.
  • Third cycle of 8 clocks : The controller sends 0xDE. At this point, 0xCF reaches device 3, 0xAB moves from device 1 to device 2, and 0xDE is loaded into device 1.
Response Management

After these three cycles of 8 clocks, each device received its dedicated byte. Device 3, having received 0xCF, sends a response to the controller.

Considerations for Software Implementation
  • Initialization : Preparing the SPI controller to manage transmission sequences, including configuring SPI modes and clock frequency.
  • Transmission Loop : Precise management of the transmission loop is crucial to ensure that bytes are sent in the correct order and at the right time.
  • Listening to Answers : The controller must be ready to receive the response from the last device after the transmission sequence, requiring special attention to synchronization and verification of the integrity of the received data.

This SPI Daisy Chain transmission sequence demonstrates the effectiveness of serial communication in managing multiple devices with minimal use of connection resources. It highlights the importance of precise timing and careful programming to achieve effective two-way communications in complex systems.

VII. Typical Daisy Chain Applications

Typical applications of Daisy Chain SPI encompass areas where efficient management of multiple devices is paramount. It is often used in embedded systems, sensor networks, and communications devices where space and cost reduction are critical.

In instrumentation and measurement systems : The SPI Daisy Chain configuration is particularly advantageous for connecting a series of analog-to-digital (ADC) or digital-to-analog (DAC) converters in precision measurement equipment. It allows sequential reading of data from multiple sensors without multiplying CS lines, thus optimizing circuit design and system responsiveness.

In the management of LED or LCD displays : For complex display panels requiring individual control of multiple segments or LEDs, the Daisy Chain SPI simplifies the connection between the controller and display modules. This method makes it easy to expand display capabilities without compromising update speed or signal routing complexity.

For expanding digital I/O : The use of SPI shift registers in Daisy Chain configuration allows you to increase the number of digital outputs available to a microcontroller. This approach is ideal for applications requiring a large number of digital controls, such as controlling LED arrays or managing complex user interfaces.

In embedded systems and automation : The Daisy Chain configuration is particularly useful for systems requiring fast and reliable communication between a central controller and a series of sensors or actuators. It allows for notable simplification of cabling and better space management on printed circuit boards, which is crucial in environments constrained by space or requiring a high density of connections.


The SPI Daisy Chain configuration represents an innovative and efficient solution for managing communication between a controller and several peripherals in many electronic systems. By reducing cabling complexity and optimizing the use of hardware resources, it offers remarkable flexibility for the design and evolution of embedded systems. Although this method presents some challenges, such as latency management and software implementation complexity, the benefits in terms of design simplification and space saving are undeniable. Typical applications in industrial automation, instrumentation systems, and consumer electronics illustrate the versatility and efficiency of the Daisy Chain SPI. By taking into account the specificities of each project, designers can take full advantage of this configuration to develop more robust, scalable and economical communicating systems.

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