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Digital Video and HD, 2nd Edition by Charles Poynton

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17

Streams and files

A file is an ordered sequence of bytes explicitly having a start and an end, characterized by storage. A stream is characterized by realtime data transfer of unbounded duration on a unidirectional channel – that is, with no upstream channel for flow control, acknowledgement, or retransmission request. Table 17.1 provides a general summary of the characteristics of files and streams.

Table 17.1. Files and streams are compared.

A file … A stream …
… has predefined beginning and end … has indeterminate beginning and end
… usually involves storage media … usually involves an external data interconnect
… permits “random access” to data … involves sequential data access, typically starting midstream
… has structure imposed ...

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