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DecoderA decoder is a circuit that changes a code into a set of signals. It is called a decoder because it does the reverse of encoding, but we will begin our study of encoders and decoders with decoders because they are simpler to design. A common type of decoder is the line decoder which takes an ndigit binary number and decodes it into 2^{n} data lines. The simplest is the 1to2 line decoder. The truth table is
A is the address and D is the dataline. D_{0} is NOT A and D_{1} is A. The circuit looks like
Only slightly more complex is the 2to4 line decoder. The truth table is
Developed into a circuit it looks like
Larger line decoders can be designed in a similar fashion, but just like with the binary adder there is a way to make larger decoders by combining smaller decoders. An alternate circuit for the 2to4 line decoder is
Replacing the 1to2 Decoders with their circuits will show that both circuits are equivalent. In a similar fashion a 3to8 line decoder can be made from a 1to2 line decoder and a 2to4 line decoder, and a 4to16 line decoder can be made from two 2to4 line decoders. You might also consider making a 2to4 decoder ladder from 1to2 decoder ladders. If you do it might look something like this:
For some logic it may be required to build up logic like this. For an eightbit adder we only know how to sum eight bits by summing one bit at a time. Usually it is easier to design ladder logic from boolean equations or truth tables rather than design logic gates and then "translate" that into ladder logic. A typical application of a line decoder circuit is to select among multiple devices. A circuit needing to select among sixteen devices could have sixteen control lines to select which device should "listen". With a decoder only four control lines are needed.


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