Various kinds of buffers have different names that more or less describe the functionality that they achieve such as the FIFO, or the circular buffer. They are both buffers, and serve similar purposes however their implementations are different.

I have a kind of buffer that only holds the last X seconds worth of data. So at any time when I read it I can expect the data to be within the last X seconds. Any data that is older than X is constantly dropped. Is there already a name for this kind of buffer?

  • The term "window" is often used. See a number of relevant entries at window disambiguation.
    – Erik Eidt
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 15:35
  • Whoever down-voted, please explain why. Or else, try and google things like "time" or "buffer", lot's of ambiguous results show up.
    – Snoop
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 16:49
  • You might call it MRU buffer.
    – aventurin
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 20:25
  • @aventurin as in "most recently used"?
    – Snoop
    Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 1:12

1 Answer 1


We usually call a buffer that holds most recently read data a cache.

There's a key difference between a buffer and a cache: caches save time by making the access of frequently used data faster by avoiding physical reads of data that you will likely need again soon, whereas buffers save time by avoiding many small writes or reads by holding the data until a certain amount is reached before writing from memory to disk (flushing) or viceversa, allowing for fewer, biggers reads or writes. In the case of video and audio buffers avoid skipping or waiting times by holding an amount of the streamed data before reproduction.

  • The buffer I am referring to is receiving data asynchronously and "buffering" it. This is data which has yet to be consumed, and thus I wouldn't exactly call it "most recently read". Sorry if the question was mis-worded.
    – Snoop
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 11:03
  • If I were to put it another way, I would say that this is a buffer which holds data "over a range of time".
    – Snoop
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 11:04
  • @StevieV Then the term you are looking for is simply buffer. Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 11:05

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