What is Jitter?

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What is Jitter?
Jitter refers to variation or displacement in the pulses during signal transmission. It may also be referred to as irregular signals or timing distortions. Pulse variations may be in the form of signal strength, amplitude, or other elements.

Since data transmission is not as simple as sending one single file from the source to the recipient, jitters may result along the way. During transmission, data in the form of text, image, audio, or video is split up into many items called “packets”. And these packets come with indicators in terms of its order, so the recipient’s computer will be able to view the data as intended. When an interruption or jitter occurs, some of these packets may be lost resulting to data corruption.

Data transmission may be hampered by mechanical or electronic faults. In sending out files through the internet for example, common problems like power surges or outages, random EM pulses, and/or bandwidth congestion may lead to jitters. Other sources of jitter may be thermal noise, flicker noise, EMI radiation from RF sources and AC power lines, cross talk from adjacent signal traces, and even power supply noises. It is also important to note that problems with the data transfer may occur during transit or at the recipient’s computer itself.

On media files, jitter may be minimized by means of a buffering system. A jitter buffer is more like a temporary storage for packets of data received. Packets are then arranged or “buffered” for a short interval before playing it out on the receiver’s computer.

Jitter may also be corrected by software fixes or hardware upgrades. On the software front, adjustments may be made on data assembly after transmission of the packets. For hardware, much can be done to smooth out glitches in the signals like amplitude modulation, cycle adjustments or error correction in frequency.

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