A stream usually flows through a channel of some kind, as opposed to packets which may be addressed and routed independently, possibly to multiple recipients. Streams usually require some mechanism for establishing a channel or a "connection" between the sender and receiver.
Characters may be read from (written to) a stream without knowing their actual source (destination) and buffering is provided transparently by the library routines.
[IBM AIX 3.2 Communication Programming Concepts, SC23-2206-03].
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Streaming SIMD Extensions