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serial port response time

I'm writing an application which listens on the serial port for a command
from another device.  It needs to send a response to this command back over the
serial port within 30ms of receving the command, with a 3 ms inter-character
timeout.  I'd think that this would be fairly straight forward.  I switch on the
command, determine response and send it back.  

But this doesn't seem to work right, especially when sending more than a few
bytes.  I want to be able to send 25-50 bytes at a time, but the receiver
running on my host machine timesout the read before it finishes.  It seems as if
all 25 bytes are not being sent as a continuous block, but pausing in the

Any ideas on how I could speed things up?  This might be a deal-breaker for my
application if I can't get it to work.