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Bus mastering is a bus architecture feature that allows a control bus to communicate directly with other components without having to go through the CPU. Most up-to-date bus architectures, like the peripheral component interconnect (PCI), support bus mastering.
Bus mastering increases the operating system's data transfer rate, conserves system resources and boosts performance and response time.
Bus mastering allows a control bus to access RAM independently from the CPU. It is designed to allow data transfer between a peripheral component and RAM while the CPU implements other responsibilities.
The bus master platform is most commonly found in distinct input/output (I/O) devices or in a microprocessor. It directs traffic on an I/O pathway or computer bus. The bus master is the “master” and controls the bus pathways that contain the transmission signals and address. The input and output (I/O) devices on a bus are the “slaves”.
If a computer contains several components that support bus mastering, hierarchical structure needs to be implemented to prevent several components from trying to use the bus at the same time. There are several structures such as: