Bit slip

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In digital transmission, bit slip is the loss of a bit or bits, caused by clock drift – variations in the respective clock rates of the transmitting and receiving devices.

One cause of bit slippage is overflow of a receive buffer that occurs when the transmitter's clock rate exceeds that of the receiver. This causes one or more bits to be dropped for lack of storage capacity.

One way to maintain timing between transmitting and receiving devices is to employ an asynchronous protocol such as start-stop. Alternatively, bit slip can be prevented by using a self-clocking signal (such as a signal modulated using OQPSK) or using a line coding such as Manchester encoding.

Another cause is "losing count", as on a hard drive: if a hard drive encounters a long string of 0s, without any 1s (or a string of 1s without 0s), it may lose track of the frame between fields, and suffer bit slip. Thus one prevents long strings without change via such devices as run length limited codes.

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