Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is a standard switching technique, designed to unify telecommunication and computer networks. It uses asynchronous time-division multiplexing, and it encodes data into small, fixed-sized cells. This differs from approaches such as the Internet Protocol or Ethernet that use variable sized packets or frames. ATM provides data link layer services that run over a wide range of OSI physical Layer links. ATM has functional similarity with both circuit switched networking and small packet switched networking. It was designed for a network that must handle both traditional high-throughput data traffic (e.g., file transfers), and real-time, low-latency content such as voice and video. ATM uses a connection-oriented model in which a virtual circuit must be established between two endpoints before the actual data exchange begins.
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