Overview of Desk Area Network (DAN)

In today's world, multimedia apps are important part of our lives. These use various formats, i.e., audio, video, images, and text. But, multimedia apps also present challenges to the design and performance of computer systems and networks. The most important challenge is how to connect different devices and components involved in multimedia processing and communication efficiently and reliably.

To address this challenge, Desk Area Network (DAN) has been introduced. It is interconnection of computer equipment based on the Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). ATM is high-speed networking protocol that operates on the data link layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model. DAN allows multimedia devices and other peripheral devices to connect directly to the network without passing through the workstation. This improves communication and coordination between devices and the central processing unit (CPU). It allows resources to be shared over the network.

Desk Area Network (DAN) is an architecture designed for multimedia workstations. It uses called Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) to connect computer devices together. DAN has workstations, multimedia devices, and other peripheral devices to be connected and linked to other networks.

Before the introduction of DAN, there was no direct way to connect multimedia devices and peripheral devices to the network. But, with the implementation of DAN, these devices can be directly connected to the network. DAN establishes communication between peripheral devices and Central Processing Unit (CPU) and allows resources to be shared over the network.

Architecture of DAN

Desk Area Network (DAN) is a simple architecture that consists of audio/video (A/V) software, devices, and a CPU node. ATM technology use asynchronous transmission of all information in small,and fixed-size packets called ATM cells. Multimedia content includes audio, images, video, text, and other types of data.

DAN network is established using device-to-device and device-to-CPU connections. Presentation nodes, processors, and memory are all connected to the DAN network.

CPU node has an ARM 600 processor and 256 additional cache memory, which provides high-performance service. ATM technology simplifies the DAN network's operation by handling internal transmission.

Components of DAN

The devices used in the DAN (Desk Area Network) architecture are as follows −

  • Audio and Video Machine − This device is responsible for handling audio and video content in the DAN network.

  • Presentation Nodes − These nodes are connected to the DAN apparatus. These display and present multimedia content.

  • DSP (Draft Standard Point) Node − This node has an additional processor and memory. These enhance the performance of the DAN system.

  • CPU Node − The CPU node is equipped with an ARM 600 processor and 256 additional cache memory. This memory connects to the ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) fabric. The cache memory manages data by replacing old cache lines with new ones.

  • Demonstrator − The demonstrator handles multimedia access in the DAN network and manages cache traffic.

  • DAN Cache Controller − The cache controller divides the cache into fixed-size regions. It facilitates the movement of ATM cells between the controller and the DAN interconnect. This structure enables direct communication between devices and the CPU.

These devices work together to establish an efficient DAN network using the ATM technology. The network simplifies data transfer and ensures high bandwidth for multimedia applications.

Use of ATM in DAN

ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) is fast networking protocol. It is used in DAN (Desk Area Network). It was created to make things easier. It is easier for service providers that manage infrastructure costs over large areas. ATM works at the data link layer in the OSI model. That is a way to organize computer communication.

In DAN, ATM can be used with either optical fiber or copper cables. When ATM is used in DAN, it helps in the smooth flow of data because of special packets called ATM cells. These cells give complete control. It can transfer data efficiently over the network. Using ATM in DAN makes data flow quickly. Because ATM networks can handle a lot of information at once. The concept of using ATM in DAN was introduced by Mark Hayter and Derek McAuley.

How DAN Works

Communication in DAN (Desk Area Network) is established through device-to-device and CPU-to-device connections. The network transfers data in the form of packets. These are small units of information. The architecture of DAN is designed for each machine.

When a packet is sent across the DAN network. It travels directly to its destination. This direct transfer increases reliability and efficiency compared to other types of networks. The network interface of DAN is simple and user-friendly once it is set up.

Data flow in DAN is dependent on the connections between devices. It serves two purposes. Firstly, routing information travels from the source device to its intended destination. Secondly, the context or content of the data is available at the receiving point in the network. This reliable machine network ensures data security during transmission.

Desk Area Network (DAN) helps devices in a multimedia workstation to communicate and share resources efficiently. DAN uses Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) to directly connect devices. Let's look at how DAN works in greater detail.

  • Connection Establishment − DAN has multimedia devices, peripherals and workstations. These can be connected directly to the network. Previously, they had to go through workstations, but DAN removes this extra step.

  • Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) − DAN uses ATM. High-speed protocol that ensures fast and reliable data transfer within the network. ATM uses fixed length cells for low latency and predictable transmission.

  • Improved communication and coordination − By connecting devices directly. DAN improves communication and coordination between multimedia devices, peripherals, and the CPU. It enables faster data exchange, smoother multimedia processing and better communication.

  • Resource Sharing − Allows the sharing of resources on the DAN network. DAN-connected media devices and peripheral devices can access shared files, data, and processing power. This improves collaboration and overall workstation performance.

  • Interconnection with other networks − DAN can be connected to other networks, expanding its capabilities and connectivity. This allows for seamless integration and communication between different networks, thereby improving the efficiency of the DAN.

In general, DAN simplifies connectivity and communication within a multimedia workstation. Eliminates the need for the workstation as an intermediary, thereby reducing latency and improving efficiency. ATM ensures fast and reliable data transfer, which is important for multimedia processing. DAN also allows resources to be shared while optimizing performance.

Advantages of DAN

DAN offers several advantages for multimedia workstations and applications, such as −

  • High-performance communication − DAN utilizes ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) technology for communication. It offers high bandwidth and fast data transmission. It reduces delays and ensures efficient data transfer. ATM also includes error detection and correction mechanisms for reliable data transmission.

  • Streamlined network-user interface − DAN simplifies the network-user interface. It can be done by using the connection-oriented nature of ATM streams. It provides routing details and context at the endpoint. It eliminates the need for specifying specific device addresses. Instead, devices only need to specify the desired type and quality of service. So, configuration and management of DAN is easier.

  • Resource sharing − DAN enables direct connection of peripheral devices to the network. It promotes resource sharing. Devices can access or provide resources to other devices and networks without involving the workstation and CPU node. For example, camera can directly send video data to projector and printer. It reduces the workload and congestion on the workstation.

Overall, DAN offers high-performance communication, streamlined interface, and resource sharing capabilities. It enhances the efficiency and functionality of multimedia workstations and applications.

Limitation and Challenges of DAN

There are various limitations and Challenges of DAN.


  • Cost − DAN can be more expensive to set up and maintain than other types of networks.

  • Complexity − DAN can be more complex to manage than other types of networks.

  • Security − DAN can be more vulnerable to security attacks than other types of networks.


  • Bandwidth − DAN networks require a high bandwidth to support multimedia applications.

  • Latency − DAN networks can have high latency, which can impact the performance of multimedia applications.

  • Standardization − DAN is not yet a standardized technology, which can make it difficult to implement and deploy.

You can address these limitations and challenges of DAN by following −

  • Cost − DAN can be made more affordable by using lower-cost components and by optimizing the network design.

  • Complexity − DAN can be made easier to manage by using software tools and by providing training for network administrators.

  • Security − DAN can be made more secure by using encryption and by implementing security policies.

  • Bandwidth − DAN networks can be made to have more bandwidth by using faster network components and by using more efficient data transfer protocols.

  • Latency − DAN networks can be made to have lower latency by using shorter network paths and by using more efficient data transfer protocols.

  • Standardization − DAN can be made a standardized technology by working with standards organizations to develop and publish standards for DAN.

By addressing these limitations and challenges, DAN can become a more widely adopted and reliable technology for multimedia applications.


Multimedia is becoming more and more important in our lives. Desk Area Network (DAN) is a way to connect multimedia devices together so they can communicate efficiently. DAN uses ATM technology to make data transfer faster and easier.

DAN bypasses the workstation. It means that the devices can communicate directly with each other. This makes communication more efficient. It allows devices to share resources more easily.

DAN does have some limitations. These are complexity, cost, compatibility, scalability, network congestion, security, and limited support. These limitations need to be addressed in order for DAN to be successful.

Despite these limitations, DAN has some advantages for multimedia workstations and applications. It can improve efficiency and functionality. These provide high-performance communication, a streamlined interface, and resource sharing capabilities. DAN has the potential to revolutionize multimedia applications and contribute to their continued growth.

Overall, DAN is a promising solution for efficient multimedia communication. With proper attention to its limitations and challenges. It can further enhance the multimedia experience in our interconnected world.

Updated on: 01-Sep-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started