TMC5160 vs. TMC2209:Understanding the Differences

Published:February 20, 2024

Prof. David Reynolds stands as a luminary in the field of electrical engineering, renowned for his expertise in integrated circuits. Holding a distinguished position as a Professor of Electrical Engineering, Prof. Reynolds earned his acclaim through decades of research, teaching, and industry collaboration.

The TMC5160 and TMC2209 are motor driver ICs made by Trinamic, specializing in motion control and motor drive technology. These ICs are designed for stepper motor control, offering advanced features to improve performance and efficiency. Today, we'll focus on these drivers in the context of 3D printers, comparing the TMC5160 and TMC2209.

We'll explore the differences between Trinamic’s TMC5160 and TMC2209 stepper drivers, discuss how to choose between them based on specific needs and compare the SPI and UART communication methods used by the TMC2209 and TMC5160. This information should be valuable for 3D printing enthusiasts seeking to replace or upgrade their printer's stepper drivers.


Overview of TMC5160


The TMC5160 is a stepper motor controller and driver IC known for its high power and compatibility with serial communication interfaces. It offers precise and efficient control, making it suitable for various applications like 3D printers, CNC machines, and robotic arms. The IC features a flexible ramp generator for automatic positioning and is considered one of the most advanced stepper motor drivers in the industry. When used with external transistors, it enables the creation of highly dynamic, high-torque drive systems.


Overview of TMC2209


The TMC2209 is a motor driver IC designed for two-phase stepper motors, known for its ultra-silent operation. It incorporates several proprietary features that ensure maximum efficiency and noise reduction while delivering optimal torque. The pin configuration of the TMC2209 is compatible with various legacy drivers and with the TMC2208.

In terms of current handling, the TMC2209 can manage motor currents of up to 2A (RMS) or 2.8A (peak) per coil. It can be interfaced with a microcontroller via UART to receive control and tuning commands. Additionally, it includes on-chip OTP memory for storing tuning values.

The TMC2209 supports a wide range of stepper motor voltages, from 4.75V to 29V, with an operating voltage of 5V. Its noiseless operation makes it particularly suitable for low-cost applications requiring battery operation. The TMC2209 is packaged in a 28-pad QFN (Quad Flat No-Leads) package.


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Pinout


TMC5160 Pinout



TMC2209 Pinout



TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Feature & Benefit


TMC5160 Feature & Benefit

  • Supports 2-phase stepper motors with coil currents ranging from 1A to several 10A
  • SixPoint™ ramp motion controller
  • Step/Dir interface with micro-step interpolation MicroPlyer™
  • Voltage range of 8V to 60V DC
  • Supports SPI and Single Wire UART communication
  • Encoder interface and 2x reference switch input
  • Offers up to 256 micro-steps per full step for high-resolution
  • StealthChop2™ for quiet operation and smooth motion
  • Resonance dampening for mid-range resonances
  • SpreadCycle™ for highly dynamic motor control chopping
  • DcStep™ for load-dependent speed control
  • StallGuard2™ for high-precision sensorless motor load detection
  • CoolStep™ for current control, saving up to 75% of energy
  • Passive braking and freewheeling mode
  • Full protection and diagnostics
  • Compact size of 7x7mm² (body) in TQFP48 package or 8x8mm² QFN


TMC2209 Feature & Benefit

  • Supports 2-phase stepper motors with up to 2.8A peak coil current and 2A RMS
  • STEP/DIR Interface with 8, 16, 32, or 64 micro step pin settings
  • Smooth operation with 256 micro steps using MicroPlyer™ interpolation
  • Silent motor operation with StealthChop2™
  • Highly dynamic motor control with SpreadCycle™ chopper
  • Load and stall detection with StallGuard4™ for StealthChop
  • Current control for energy savings of up to 75% with CoolStep™
  • Low RDSon, low heat-up LS 170mΩ & HS 170mΩ (Typ. at 25°C)
  • Voltage range of 4.75V to 29V DC
  • Low power standby mode to comply with standby energy regulations
  • Internal sense resistor option (no external sense resistors required)
  • Features passive braking, freewheeling, and automatic power-down
  • Single Wire UART & OTP for advanced configuration options
  • Integrated pulse generator for standalone motion control
  • Full protection and diagnostics
  • Compact QFN package with a large heat slug


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Block Diagram


TMC5160 Block Diagram



The TMC5160 stands out for its comprehensive motion control capabilities, robust external MOSFET driver stages, and high-quality current regulation. It offers versatility that caters to a broad range of applications, from battery-powered high-efficiency systems to embedded applications requiring 10A or more motor current per coil. The TMC5160 includes all the necessary intelligence to drive a motor, managing motor movement based on TRINAMIC's unique features such as StallGuard2, CoolStep, DcStep, SpreadCycle, and StealthChop, which optimize drive performance.


TMC2209 Block Diagram



The TMC2209 is suitable for a broad range of applications, from battery systems to embedded applications, supporting up to 2A motor current per coil. TRINAMIC's unique chopper modes, SpreadCycle, and StealthChop2 enhance drive performance. StealthChop reduces motor noise to near silence at low speeds, while standby current reduction helps manage power dissipation and cooling costs. Extensive support enables quick design cycles and rapid time-to-market with competitive products.


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Application


TMC5160 Application

  • Robotics & Industrial Drives
  • Textile and Sewing Machines
  • Packing Machines
  • Factory & Lab Automation
  • High-speed 3D Printers
  • Liquid Handling
  • Medical Equipment
  • Office Automation
  • CCTV Systems
  • ATM and Cash Recyclers
  • Pumps and Valves


TMC2209 Application

  • Compatible Design Upgrades
  • 3D Printers
  • Printers, POS Systems, Office and Home Automation
  • Textile and Sewing Machines
  • CCTV and Security Systems
  • ATM and Cash Recyclers
  • HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)
  • Battery-Operated Equipment


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Application Circuit


TMC5160 Application Circuit



The TMC5160 is an intelligent power component that serves as a motion controller and driver chip, acting as an intermediary between the CPU and a high-power stepper motor. It contains all the logic necessary to control the stepper motor, eliminating the need for external software for motor control; only target positions need to be provided. The TMC5160 integrates driver and controller functionalities, enabling several unique enhancements.

The TMC5160's six-point ramp generator utilizes features such as StealthChop, DCStep, CoolStep, and StallGuard2 to automatically optimize each motor movement. It is designed to extend the capabilities of the TMC2100, TMC2130, and TMC5130 families to support higher voltages and motor currents.


TMC2209 Application Circuit



The TMC2209 is designed to require only a few control pins due to its compact size. It offers flexibility by allowing the selection of the desired micro step resolution, ranging from 8 to 64 microsteps or up to 1/256 step, to match the capabilities of the motion controller.

The TMC2209 incorporates advanced features exclusive to TRINAMIC products. These features enhance precision, energy efficiency, reliability, motion smoothness, and thermal performance in various stepper motor applications.


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209 Alternative


TMC5160 Alternative



TMC2209 Alternative

TMC2208, A4988, A498, L6474, L6207, and L6208 are alternatives for TMC2209.


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209 Datasheet


TMC5160 Datasheet

TMC2209 Datasheet


TMC5160 vs TMC2209: Pacakge


TMC5160 Pacakge


Dimensional Drawings TQFP48-EP


TMC2209 Pacakge


Dimensional Drawings QFN28


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: What's the Difference?


Maximum Phase Current

The maximum phase current setting dictates the amount of current the stepper driver can deliver to the stepper motors, influencing the speed at which the motors can operate.

The TMC5160 boasts a maximum phase current value (RMS) of 3A, whereas the TMC2209 offers a maximum phase current value (RMS) of 1.7A. This means that the TMC5160 is capable of driving more powerful motors than the TMC2209.



The RDSon value represents the drain-source on resistance of the MOSFET, indicating its total resistance.

The TMC5160 features an RDSon value of 0.1 Ohm, while the TMC2209 has an RDSon value of 0.2 Ohm. This implies that the TMC5160 operates with greater energy efficiency and, consequently, runs cooler, as less power is lost across the MOSFET.


Communication Protocol

The communication protocol dictates how the stepper driver communicates with the mainboard.

The TMC5160 supports only the SPI communication protocol, whereas the TMC2209 also includes support for UART and standalone modes.

In the context of 3D printing, UART and standalone modes are more prevalent, making firmware configuration easier for these protocols. However, SPI offers faster and more efficient communication.


Special Features

Special features are additional capabilities that provide advantages to the stepper driver.

The TMC5160 includes Trinamic’s DCStep technology, a feature absent in the TMC2209. DCStep prevents stepper motors from losing steps in overload situations.


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209 Comparison Table


Specification TMC5160 TMC2209
Interface Step/Dir or SPI Step/Dir
Configuration SPI CFG Pins or UART
Native Microsteps up to 1/256 up to 1/256
microPlyer Microsteps 1/256 1/256
Voltage Range 8V to 60V DC 4.75V to 29V DC
Logic Supply Voltage (VIO) 3 - 5V 3 - 5V
Motor Supply Voltage (VM) 10 - 35V (HV 50V) 5.5 - 28V
Phase Current max (RMS) 3.0A 1.7A
RDSon 0.1 Ohm (HV 0.2 Ohm) 0.2 Ohm
Rsense 75 mOhm 110 mOhm
Internal V-Regulator enabled enabled
Special Control Features SixPoint™ ramp, Resonance Dampening, DcStep™ StallGuard4™, CoolStep™
Package TQFP48 QFN28


TMC5160 vs. TMC2209: Which One Should I Choose?

When choosing between two stepper drivers, it's essential to understand their specifications and identify which set of features suits your needs best, as it's challenging to declare one as superior to the other.

The choice depends on your requirements, budget, and compatibility with your firmware and motherboard. However, if we focus solely on features, the TMC5160 is a superior driver compared to the TMC2209.

If your firmware and motherboard support SPI and you're comfortable with the price difference, we recommend opting for the TMC5160 for its superior performance based on specifications alone.

That said, it's important to note that the TMC5160 might be considered overkill for a 3D printer. The TMC2209 remains one of the best drivers available, offering a significant upgrade over standard A4988 or even TMC2208 drivers found in many Ender 3 printers.




Advantages of TMC5160


The TMC5160 offers several advantages over traditional stepper motor drivers. Let's delve into some of the key benefits:

1. Smooth and Silent Operation

Trinamic's stealthChop2 technology ensures almost silent operation, even at high speeds. This is particularly useful in noise-sensitive applications like 3D printing in residential or office environments.


2. Improved Energy Efficiency

With features like coolStep and stallGuard, the TMC5160 optimizes motor power consumption. These features dynamically adjust the motor current based on load conditions, resulting in energy savings and reduced heat generation.


3. Accurate Positioning and Motion Control

The TMC5160 supports high micro stepping resolutions and precise current control, enabling accurate positioning and motion control. This precision is crucial in applications requiring exact movement and positioning, such as CNC machines and robotics.


4. Enhanced Motor Protection

Built-in protection features in the TMC5160 safeguard both the motor and driver from potential damage. Over-temperature, over-current, and under-voltage protection mechanisms ensure reliable and safe operation, preventing downtime and motor failures.


What Is the Difference Between SPI (TMC5160) and UART (TMC2209)?

One of the major differences between the TMC5160 and the TMC2209 is the communication protocol they employ. This can be crucial, as the controller communicating with the stepper motors may not be compatible with both protocols.

Here is a simplified explanation of the differences between SPI and UART, which require some embedded systems knowledge:

  • Pin Requirement: SPI requires four pins, while UART needs only two.
  • Number of Connections: SPI supports multiple connections simultaneously, unlike UART, which is limited to a 1-to-1 connection.
  • Speed: SPI is considerably faster than UART, with SPI transferring data roughly three times faster on average.
  • Cost: Implementing SPI is cheaper than UART from a hardware perspective, making it more cost-effective to manufacture drivers with SPI support.
  • Synchronization: SPI communication is synchronous, whereas UART is asynchronous.
  • Physical Space: SPI devices require less physical space than UART chips, making SPI a better choice in space-constrained scenarios.



The TMC22xx and TMC516x drivers feature an advanced stealth chip mode (StealthChop2) that performs exceptionally well at higher accelerations.

When the TMC2209 driver is connected to the mainboard via UART, additional features are available for motor current settings and sensorless homing through software.

Similarly, when the TMC5160 driver is connected to the mainboard via SPI, additional functionalities can be accessed for motor current adjustment and sensorless homing through software.

If there is uncertainty regarding the power-up/down sequences for SilentStepSticks with variable logic voltage (3-5V), it is highly recommended to use the SilentStepStick Protector.


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  • What is the difference between tmc5160pro and TMC2209?

    The TMC2209 is a motor driver IC designed for ultra-silent operation in two-phase stepper motors. In contrast, the TMC5160 is a high-power stepper motor controller and driver IC equipped with serial communication interfaces.

  • Can the TMC5160 and TMC2209 be used interchangeably in the same applications?

    Although both drivers are intended for stepper motor control, they differ in features and performance. The decision between them relies on the particular needs of your application. The TMC5160 is ideal for high-performance applications, whereas the TMC2209 is a more cost-effective option for simpler applications.

  • What is the current limit for TMC2209?

    2.8A peak current.

  • What are the three types of stepper motors?

    Permanent Magnet Stepper, Variable Reluctance Stepper, and Hybrid Synchronous Stepper.

  • Which TMC driver is best?

    Top Stepper Motor Drivers Overview:

    1. BIGTREETECH TMC2209 (Best Choice)
    2. BIQU A4988 (Best Budget)
    3. BIGTREETECH TMC5160 (Premium Choice)
    4. Creality TMC2225 (Best Value)
    6. Songhe DRV8825

  • What is the difference between TMC2208 and TMC2209?

    Maximum Current Output – Typically, TMC2208 drivers are rated for up to 1.5A (2.0A Peak) continuous motor output, while the TMC2209 drivers are rated for up to 2.0A (2.8A Peak). refer to this article for more information about TMC2208 vs. TMC2209.

  • What is the difference between TMC5161 and TMC5160?

    These TMC5161 Driver Boards from BigTreeTech represent a slight advancement over the powerful TMC5160 driver. They offer slightly more power output and introduce a new feature called Velocity Mode, among other great features characteristic of the TMC brand.

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