ATM (Asynchronous Transmission Mode) communicates with cells rather than transmitting frames.Instead of specifying the source and destination addresses of the stations communicating, an ATM cell indicates the path the data will flow through. Small cells, all of the same size, are used to make it easy for devices to process a cell, so intermediate devices (called switches) can maintain a very high data rate.
ATM is capable of extremely hight-speed routing. At the lowest, it runs at 25 megabits per seconds. At the fastest, it can run up to 622 megabits per second. In addition to its speed, ATM is more complex than either Ethernet or Token Ring. ATM can provide for simultaneous data, video and voice transmission. It can be used for WAN, LAN and MAN. It can reach speeds of up to 2.488 gigabits per seconds.
On an ATM network, every station is always transmitting. However, Most of the cells transmitted are empty cells that can be discarded at the switch . When a cell that iss not empty, enters the switch, the addresh are read to determine where the cell will go next. The cell is the sent out in the next available slot, according to the type of cell it is.
ATM cells can be encapsulated in other protocols, including those of FDDI(Fiber Distributed Data Interface), SONET(Synchronous optical networking), etc.
ATM has emerged as one of the technologies for integrating LANs and WANs. ATM can support any traffic type in separate or mixed streams, delay-sensitive traffic, and non-delay-sensitive traffics. ATM can also scale form low to high speeds. It has been adopted by all the industry's equipment vendors, from LAN to PBX (Private Branch Exchange) With ATM, network designers can integrate LANs and WANs to support emerging applications with economy in the enterprise. Network designers are deploying ATM technology to migrate from TDM (Time Division Multiplexing) networks for the following reasons :
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