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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

A burst is a continuous transfer of data without interruption from one device to another. Microprocessors allow burst-mode block transfers of data to memory and onboard caches. Disk and network adapters perform burst-mode transfers in which they control the system bus in order to send multiple blocks of data.

On a multiplexed data communication channel that normally merges and transfers data from several sources, burst mode provides a way to dedicate the entire channel for the transmission of data from one source. Normally, a timeslot is dedicated for each device that needs to transmit. Statistical multiplexing can handle bursts from one source.

Burst multiplexing is done on advanced "next generation" optical networks with a burst assembler at the edge. For example, IP traffic headed in the same general direction is assembled and routed as a burst through the network. The burst is carried on two wavelengths, one for data and another for header information that guides the burst through the network. The advantage of this scheme is realized in networks that are not fully optical. The header information, which requires optical to electrical translation, goes in a separate wavelength, while the data burst goes all the way through in the optical form.

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