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I'm working on a board which requires USB serial communication. For this I want to use an FT232RNL, however I'd like to know if I need to program it before I install it on the board. Also, do I need to install any USB drivers on my PC so that it can recognize my board?

Thanks in advance!

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2 Answers 2

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From the FT232RN datasheet:

  1. Section 4.1 Key Features contains:

    The CBUS lines can be configured with any one of these output options by setting bits in the internal EEPROM. The device is supplied with the most commonly used pin definitions pre-programmed - see Section 8 for details.

  2. Section 8 Internal EEPROM Configuration starts with:

    Following a power-on reset or a USB reset the FT232RN will scan its internal EEPROM and read the USB configuration descriptors stored there. The default factory programmed values of the internal EEPROM are shown in Table 8.1.

    And also has:

    The internal EEPROM in FT232RN can be programmed over USB using the FTDI utility program FT_PROG. FT_PROG can be downloaded from FTDI Utilities on the FTDI website (www.ftdichip.com). Version 2.8a or later is required for the FT232RN chip.

So, yes the FT232RNL does come programmed with an EEPROM configuration as specified in the datasheet. If the default EEPROM configuration isn't suitable for the application, it can be modified over USB once the FT232RN is soldered on a board.

As for if drivers are installed by default, it depends upon the operating system. Looking an an example AlmaLinux 8.10 installation, the ftdi_sio module installed with the operating system supports the VID 0403 PID 6001 which is the default for the FT232RN.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I thought the question was about firmware, but good point about the firmware configuration settings. \$\endgroup\$
    – Justme
    Commented Jul 7 at 10:37
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FT232 are ready to use chips.

As they are factory pre-programed microcontrollers, you don't need to ever program them yourself in any way.

And your computer needs a driver for any chip before it can be used. Depending on your operating system, it may already have a suitable driver (such as Linux), or not, and for example plugging an FTDI chip to Windows will make Windows to automatically fetch a driver from Microsoft and install it, so you usually don't need to go to FTDI website, download the driver and install it yourself, but you can do that if your PC is for example not connected to Internet so you can install FTDI drivers from USB stick.

The drivers may or may not update the firmware in the chip. That's all fine but once it happened that FTDI pushed a driver to Windows update that worked only with genuine FTDI chips and bricked clone chips. And end-user people with clone chips were left with devices that were now not functional, while it was not their fault that for some reason clone chips ended up in their devices.

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