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asynchronous or synchronous

Posted on 1998-11-19
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Last Modified: 2013-12-27
I have been confused by what I have read about modems. They are often described as sending data asynchronously in 8-bit packets. I have also seen referances in information about Zmodem and v.42 that they support synchronous transmission in much longer packets. What are the facts?
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Question by:lduquette
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sgenther earned 200 total points
ID: 1145547
In asynchronous transmission, data is transmitted one character at a time. Each character is bracketed by a start bit and one or more stop bits. Asynchronous transmission is also called start-stop transmission. The asynchronous characters are not evenly spaced along the transmission medium. In gaps between characters, the line is idle; nothing is transmitted. The characters are transmitted independently with regard to timing signals.
In synchronous transmission an extra signal, the clock signal, is added to the RS-232 leads. Usually, the two synchronous modems supply the clock signal, although the DTE (PC) can also supply the clock signal. Configuring a synchronous port for external clock means the modem supplies the clock signal. In synchronous transmission, characters are grouped together in large blocks of data, sometimes 2,000 to 4,000 characters to a block. There are no spaces between characters in the block, whereas there are always spaces between asynchronous characters, and therefore, some idle line time. A control character, called a SYN character, always precedes the data block. Usually two or three SYN characters precede the data. The block starts with a start-of-text (STX) character. An end-of-text (ETX) character terminates the block.
During a transmission stream, blocks are evenly spaced along the medium with respect to time. If no data is being transmitted, SYN characters are transmitted periodically to keep the two modems synched up. Generally, modems can achieve a higher bit rate using synchronous transmission, but such transmission requires more complex and therefore more expensive hardware because of the need for a clocking signal. Also, if you send a large block of data synchronously and an error occurs, there is a greater speed penalty for re-transmitting the large packet, as opposed to just re-transmitting a single corrected packet when using asynchronous transmission. However, in asynchronous transmission, the added need for a start bit and one or more stop bits per character may add 10 to 20 percent to the size of the transmission. Nonetheless, asynchronous modems currently enjoy wider use.

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by:lduquette
ID: 1145548
The reply pretty much said what I knew already. The last line states "asynchronous modems currently enjoy wider use." However, modems sold today support advanced error correction and compression which I have read use synchronous tranmission modes. If this is true then the average consumer modem today supports synchronous transmission!! true or false?
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by:sgenther
ID: 1145549
True. As the prices of computer hardware decreases so does the cost of synchronous modems. Also Modems that do "the best of both worlds" have come into play.
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