High-speed interface for connecting peripherals to computers. Currently running at 400Mbps, it supports up to 63 devices, is hot-pluggable and requires no configuration of device IDs or terminators. The next generation is expected to reach 800Mbps. Primarily used as an interface between Digital Video cameras and computers, many other Firewire devices are available, such as Hard Drives and CD writers.

Firewire was developed by Apple, but has been adopted as an industry standard, IEEE 1394. The name "Firewire" is a trademark of Apple, however, so other companies give the technology other names, such as Sony's iLink.

Firewire is so good that it's almost a no-brainer, but for a couple of caveats:

  • Apple charge a fairly hefty royalty for use of the technology
  • Intel are not jumping on the bandwagon, because they think that the next generation of USB will be better.

Intel are only correct about USB 2.0, however, in the sense that they take "better" to mean "just as good, but developed by us". By the time USB 2.0 hits the streets, Firewire should have made the jump to the next generation, which will be twice as fast.

The future of IEEE 1394 is quite promising. Its independence from a computer makes it an ideal method of data exchange for all digital devices. Firewire already appears in camcorders, digital cameras, hard drives, and a wide range of other computer peripherals. One of the more interesting devices to contain FireWire (or more precisely i.Link, Sony’s brand of 1394) is Playstation 2, bringing FireWire into the realm of console gaming. Industry experts also predict that FireWire will soon appear in digital VCRs, televisions, and other appliances that could rely on streamed media. An expansion of the 1394 standard is expected to be implemented by the end of this year. This addition to the standard calls for transfer speeds as fast as 3.2 Gbps and an extension of the maximum wire length. Other possible modifications to the 1394 standard include a smaller mini-jack connector and wireless capabilities.

FireWire is a serious competitor to the presently dominant SCSI and USB interfaces. Due to its higher speeds and superior design, FireWire could possibly replace these technologies for most functions. At present, FireWire does not pose a significant threat to USB, because USB is most commonly used for devices such as keyboards, printers, speakers, and mice, which do not require the high speeds and other advantages of the 1394 standard. USB has a price advantage, and FireWire will not be able to replace USB for these applications until it can be utilized at a comparable cost. SCSI, on the other hand, has little if any economic advantage over FireWire, yet was designed for the same kind of high-speed transfers that FireWire excels at. Since the 1394 interface is superior to SCSI in nearly every aspect of operation (speed, termination requirements, number of devices, hot-pluggability, cable length), SCSI’s years of industry dominance may soon be coming to a close. A potential challenge to FireWire is the emergence of USB 2.0. However, according to Scott Fierstein, technical evangelist for Microsoft, the threat posed by USB is overstated. “The end benefits of USB 2.0 sound similar to that of 1394: ease of use, PC peripheral interconnectivity and high bandwidth. Upon closer inspection, it becomes evident that the two technologies are fundamentally different and in different stages of development.” USB 2.0 is in an early stage of development and not expected on the market before mid-2001. Compare this to FireWire, which is already widely available and which is currently being researched for additional applications.

Firewire is the Apple trademarked name for the IEEE 1394 connectivity standard adopted before the IEEE ratified it as a standard.

Originally, to use use the name 'FireWire', you had to pay Apple a licensing royalty. In the begining levied fee was One US Dollar per port, but in 2000 they recended this to the flat fee if one USD per device. Under the old structure, a manufacturer of 4-port FireWire hubs would have to pay a 5 dollar royalty on each hub (4 downstream and 1 upstream ports); under the newer scheme, it is one dollar flat regardless.

However, in June of 2002, the 1394 Trade Association officially adopted the FireWire trademark as its brand identity for the IEEE 1394 standard in what is known as a "no-fee license agreement" from Apple. This allows the 1934 group and anything that uses 1394 to use the FireWire trademark and logo free-of-charge. This is hoped to clear up the confusion between 1394's many identities.

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