Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) Networking
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is, and will be for many years to come, the top of the line in networking technology. Since the creation of the Network (the ARPAnet (Advanced Research Project Agency Network)) scientists and engineers have strived to achieve the fastest information exchange speeds combined with the most cost-efficient hardware and software. Their products and ideas have always been based on packet technology and turn-based transfers; however, in the 1980s an experimental system called ATM challenged these axioms. The ATM consisted of a new topology - Asynchronism.
ATM is one of many networking types, such as Ethernet and Token Ring, which differs from all networking types in its fundamental methods. Where all other networks use consistent timing to organize the information exchange (this is called Synchronism,) ATMs use start and stop bits to allow information to send itself when needed (Asynchronism.) When the information is allowed to be shipped, it has always been sent in groups of various sizes called packets. In ATM the information is sent in a standardized size, these uniform groups are called cells.
New networking technology is accepted reluctantly, for choosing to buy yourself or your company a technology that does not become widely accepted means the waste of money, time, and energy. Due to this the users of ATM have been select until very recently. The major users of ATM are universities and research centers – both of who were given government 'seed money'; for the purpose. The users of ATM are growing very quickly and diversely as the fear of newness rubs off and envy grows toward the original users.
Though the network was the primary application focus when Asynchronism was discovered, ATM networks are not the sole application of Asynchronism. Asynchronism was successfully tested in, and now used in dial-up modems, public Unix-based terminals and the like. This simpler uses of Asynchronism serves not only to advance the performance of their respective technology but also to further the general approval of ATM's technique.
Asynchronism provides a vast array of advantages over its predecessors. Behind the popularity of ATM, the evolution of networks, and the very existence of computers lies Asynchronism's primary advance – speed. ATM transfers data from 155,52 Mbps (approximately the same speed as a Fast-Ethernet) up to 2.4888 Gbps (a speed which has never been achieved otherwise.) The average ATM network runs as three-times the speed of the Fast-Ethernet and approximately twenty-five-times that of a basic (switched) Token Ring. ATM is able to achieve these high speeds due to the constant high-bandwidth (made possible by Asynchronism) and the ability to simultaneously transmit multiple media formats (made possible by ATM topology and Asynchronism.)
The structure, or topology, of an ATM revolves around the use of cells (unlike any other network type. These cells, which have been previously described, allow the intermingling of file formats (one of the key assets to speed), primarily because of their standardized size. In addition interface hardware usually performs surprisingly better when using cells.
Though speed is the central concern in computing, there are other factors. Operating System (OS) compatibility is a 'touchy'; subject, as no one wants his or her favorite OS to be left behind in networking speed. This would make an OS obsolete and force the user to learn/switch to an entirely different computing environment. Unlike many networking types of the past ATM does not necessarily work better with Unix/Linux, but works equally well with all OS types in proportion to their original speeds.
Though the importance of ATM seems obvious to the programmers, 'Nerds';, and computer scientist most people and businesses want to know (as in any other situation) how it will specifically benefit them. When the average person replaces his PC with an ATM NC and connects to his citywide ATM Wide Area Network (WAN) or neighborhood Local Area Network (LAN) he will have the information he had previously went to the Internet for at speeds he could never image, even using a BISDN or T3 Internet connection. This glorious experience is secondly to the deliverance a business will have with ATM. According to many scientists, and business specialist, including Bill Gates, ATM will further business more in the next ten years than it has in the last fifty.