What Is Burst Mode?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2019
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In computing, a burst mode is a phenomenon in which data is transmitted at a rate that is much faster than the normal process. This type of activity can be initiated in several different ways, including manipulating the mode of computer buses or making use of capabilities associated with the random access memory or RAM to pull certain contents on the hard disk drive before they are requested by the end user. As a result of the use of these methods, information is retrieved faster, a benefit that is often helpful to that user.

The creation of a burst mode involves the intentional use of resources to achieve the faster transmission of data. While helpful, this type of activity is not something that can be set to automatically occur. It is possible to create a set of circumstances that allow this type of rapid transmission to take place for a short period of time, but ultimately the manipulation will come to an end and data will once again be transmitted according to normal protocols.


Depending on the exact strategy used for the burst mode, the process may involve preventing other devices from gaining access while a single device makes use of the available resources. This is the most common approach when attempting to arrange a burst mode by means of controlling the data bus. One device gains exclusive control of the bus until the data transmission is complete. During that transmission, other devices that would otherwise have access to the bus and its resources are not allowed to interrupt the flow of information.

It is also possible to make use of the random access memory as a means of expediting the transmission of data. In this scenario, the strategy involves arranging the use of that memory so that certain data saved in the memory is pulled ahead of the actual request. The result is that when the request is actually made, the information is already waiting and ready to transmit. In a sense, this approach works similar to the use of a cache, in which information is housed in anticipation of being requested again within a defined period of time.

The main benefit of a burst mode is the ability to retrieve data quickly and easily, with a speed that is above and beyond that of normal data retrieval processes. Depending on the urgency surrounding the data retrieval, and the nature of the data itself, this approach can often be helpful in moving forward with projects a little faster, something that ultimately can save time and money for a company. While not a permanent solution, the use of burst mode in specific situations can be practical whenever time constraints make every second count.


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