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ItemCommunications subsystem support for multimedia workstationsBarry, Matthew Edmund ( 1993)Multimedia is becoming the buzz word of the 1990s. Personal computers with the capability to display video, reproduce sound and present high resolution graphics are becoming affordable, if not cheap. We present a model for the next generation of these systems: the multimedia workstation. The multimedia workstation's central feature is its ability to communicate at high speed with other computers, not just multimedia workstations, in widely dispersed places. We discuss the expected capabilities of the workstation and the functionality of the networks that will make the workstation possible. Two main types of network to provide interconnection for the multimedia workstation are identified: a heterogeneous network of networks and a homogeneous telecommunications network. The cost of the multimedia workstation suggests that it cannot be designed as simply a video telephone. Instead it must be a versatile work support tool. Video conferencing will be a central facility; but a range of tools to support collaborative work are also needed. The communication requirements of these new applications are used to assess the current generation of communication subsystems. Several areas of weakness are identified. A variety of solutions to the problem areas are suggested, including new operating system paradigms, new protocols, and extensive hardware support for the higher level of communications processing. It is concluded that a combination of the solutions will be required for the multimedia workstation to fulfill its potential.