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Communication Streaming Architecture (CSA) is a communication interface developed by Intel that links the memory controller hub (MCH) on the chipset to the network controller. The device is an individualized connection that does not use the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) bus on the input/output (I/O) controller hub. The CSA offloads network traffic from the PCI bus and reduces bottlenecks by freeing up bandwidth for other I/O processes.
The CSA was only used for the Intel chipset that was manufactured in 2003. It was discontinued a year later and replaced by the PCI Express.
By going around the PCI bus, the CSA drastically reduces the number of bottlenecks, which can be a problem for PCI architectures. A bottleneck is when the transmission of data is delayed, impaired or completely stopped. The CSA reduces bottlenecks by offloading network traffic from the PCI bus, which frees the bandwidth for further I/O operations. In addition, other devices like the USB or optical disk drives such as DVD-ROM that are connected to the I/O controller hub (ICH) can use freed bandwidth.
The CSA had two key advantages:
Because of its consistently high transfer rates, the CSA was often used with gigabit Ethernet and was generally preferred over PCI cards. However, the PCI Express offered much higher data transfer rates, rendering CSA obsolete.