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Monday, December 21, 2009

Difference between buffer and cache ?

A buffer is a region of memory used to temporarily hold output or input data.Buffers can be implemented in either hardware or software, but the vast majority of buffers are implemented in software. Buffers are used when there is a difference between the rate at which data is received and the rate at which it can be processed.

The terms "buffer" and "cache" are not mutually exclusive and the functions are frequently combined; however, there is a difference in intent. A buffer is a temporary memory location, that is traditionally used because CPU instructions cannot directly address data stored in peripheral devices. Thus, addressable memory is used as intermediate stage.

Additionally such a buffer may be feasible when a large block of data is assembled or disassembled (as required by a storage device), or when data may be delivered in a different order than that in which it is produced. Also a whole buffer of data is usually transferred sequentially (for example to hard disk), so buffering itself sometimes increases transfer performance. These benefits are present even if the buffered data are written to the buffer once and read from the buffer once.

A cache also increases transfer performance. A part of the increase similarly comes from the possibility that multiple small transfers will combine into one large block. But the main performance-gain occurs because there is a good chance that the same datum will be read from cache multiple times, or that written data will soon be read. A cache's sole purpose is to reduce accesses to the underlying slower storage. Cache is also usually an abstraction layer that is designed to be invisible from the perspective of neighboring layers.

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