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Control of the Bus

The information flow on the computer bus is time-multiplexed to allow different functional units to use the same bus lines at different times. We will assume that only one device tries to write (drive) a given bus line at any time. A special unit, known as a bus master, has the responsibility for controlling the other units, which are correspondingly known as the bus slaves. If several units are capable of becoming bus masters these units must arbitrate amongst themselves to determine which is to have control of the bus for a given interval of time. Often a direct memory access (DMA) unit is allowed to communicate with a slave memory without going through the CPU bus master. This allows memory access at a higher speed than having to go through the intermediate CPU bus master.

Doug Gingrich
Tue Jul 13 16:55:15 EDT 1999