Contributor(s): Eric Sabetti

In information technology, isochronous (from the Greek "equal" and "time"; pronounced "eye-SAH-krun-us") pertains to processes that require timing coordination to be successful, such as voice and digital video transmission. A sound or picture going from a peripheral computer device or across a network into a computer or television set needs to arrive at close to the same rate of data flow as the source. In feeding digital image data from a peripheral device (such as a video camera) to a display mechanism within a computer, isochronous data transfer ensures that data flows continously and at a steady rate in close timing with the ability of the display mechanism to receive and display the image data. (FireWire, the IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus, includes an isochronous interface.)

Isochronous can be distinguished from asynchronous, which pertains to processes that proceed independently of each other until a dependent process has to "interrupt" the other process, and synchronous, which pertains to processes in which one process has to wait on the completion of an event in another process before continuing.

This was last updated in April 2006

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