Multimedia applications are in common use in modern computer systems. Multimedia files include video and audio files, which may be delivered to systems such as desktop computers, personal digital assistants, and cell phones.
The primary distinction between multimedia data and conventional data is that multimedia data have specific rate and deadline requirements. Because multimedia files have specific timing requirements, the data must often be compressed before delivery to a client for playback.
Multimedia data may be delivered either from the local file system or from a multimedia server across a network connection using a technique known as streaming. The timing requirements of multimedia data are known as qualityof-service requirements, and conventional operating systems often cannot make quality-of-service guarantees.
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To provide quality of service, multimedia systems must provide a form of admission control whereby a system accepts a request only if it can meet the quality-of-service level specified by the request. Providing quality-of-service guarantees requires evaluating how an operating system performs CPU scheduling, disk scheduling, and network management.
Both CPU and disk scheduling typically use the deadline requirements of a continuous-media task as a scheduling criterion. Network management requires the use of protocols that handle delay and jitter caused by the network as well as allowing a client to pause or move to different positions in the stream during playback.