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Asynchronous Data Transfer

The internal operations in a digital system are synchronized by means of clock pulses supplied by a common pulse generator. Clock pulses are applied to all registers within a unit and all data transfers among internal registers occur simultaneously during the occurrence of a clock pulse. Two units, such as a CPU and an IO interface, are designed independently of each other. If the registers in the interface share a common clock with the CPU registers, the transfer between the two units is said to be synchronous. In most cases, the internal timing in each unit is independent from the other in that each uses its own private clock for internal registers. In that case, the two units are said to be asynchronous to each other. This approach is widely used in most computer systems.
Asynchronous Data Transfer Scheme is used when speed of I/O devices does not match with microprocessor, and timing characteristics of I/O devices is not predictable. In this method, process initiates the device and checks its status. As a result, CPU has to wait till I/O device is ready to transfer data. When device is ready, CPU issues instruction for I/O transfer.
In this method two types of techniques are used based on signals before data transfer.
i. Strobe Control
ii. Handshaking
Asynchronous data transfer between two independent units requires that control signals be transmitted between the communicating units to indicate the time at which data is being transmitted. One way of achieving this is by means of a strobe pulse supplied by one of the units to indicate to the other unit when the transfer has to occur. Another method commonly used is to accompany each data item being transferred with a control signal that indicates the presence of data in the bus. The unit receiving the data item responds with another control signal to acknowledge receipt of the data. This type of agreement between two independent units is referred to as handshaking.
The strobe pulse method and the handshaking method of asynchronous data transfer are not restricted to IO transfers. In fact, they are used extensively on numerous occasions requiring the transfer of data between two independent units. In the general case we consider the transmitting unit as the source and the receiving unit as the destination. For example, the CPU is the source unit during an output or a write transfer and it is the destination unit during an input or a read transfer. It is customary to specify the asynchronous transfer between two independent units by means of a timing diagram that shows the timing relationship that must exist between the control signals and the data in the buses. The sequence of control during an asynchronous transfer depends on whether the transfer is initiated by the source or by the destination unit.

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