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In telecommunication, 4B5B is a form of data communications line code. 4B5B maps groups of 4 bits of data onto groups of 5 bits for transmission. These 5-bit words are pre-determined in a dictionary and they are chosen to ensure that there will be sufficient transitions in the line state to produce a self-clocking signal. A collateral effect of the code is that 25% more bits are needed to send the same information.
An alternative to using 4B5B coding is to use a scrambler. Some systems use scramblers in conjunction with 4B5B coding to assure DC balance and improve electromagnetic compatibility.
Depending on the standard or specification of interest, there may be several 5-bit output codes left unused. The presence of any of the unused codes in the data stream can be used as an indication that there is a fault somewhere in the link. Therefore, the unused codes can be used to detect errors in the data stream.

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