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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

FireWire is a peripheral connection technology developed by Apple Computer and Texas Instruments. The high-speed interface is suitable for real-time, full-motion video applications. Its high-speed bus supports data transfer rates of 100 Mbits/sec to 400 Mbits/sec, and the designers are working toward a 1-Gbit/sec data transfer rate. Officially, FireWire is IEEE 1394.

FireWire is an asynchronous technology that also supports real-time isochronous (time- dependent) data traffic such as full-motion video transfers. FireWire peripherals are daisy- chained from a controller port on a device such as a Macintosh. This daisy-chaining allows all the devices to be connected to a single port. Up to 63 devices can be connected without shutting down the rest of the system. FireWire provides its own bus power for peripherals.

FireWire devices include consumer electronic equipment like digital cameras, scanners, audio recorders, and video recorders, as well as computer peripherals like optical disks and high-performance disk drives.

FireWire has gained in popularity as more and more people buy digital cameras with the idea of editing video on their desktop computers. FireWire can handle the transfer of massive amounts of data from videotape to computer disk. It is also common on video editing equipment.

FireWire has many similarities to the SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) peripheral interface commonly used to connect hard drives to computers. However, FireWire has a much higher data rate and uses different cabling technology. Up to 63 devices can be connected to a single bus using twisted-pair cabling. Unlike SCSI, FireWire devices do not need to be connected in a line and terminated at the end. There is also no need to assign addresses to devices.

FireWire protocols include commands for controlling devices on the bus, including commands for starting and stopping devices like video recorders and players. FireWire will be a boon in the video production field because it provides a fast interface for not only controlling video devices, but also for streaming audio/video data to hard disks with little, if any, loss in quality.

A product that is often compared with FireWire is USB (Universal Serial Bus), discussed under its own topic. Apple Computer includes both USB and FireWire on its computers.

RFC 2734 (IPv4 over IEEE 1394, December 1999) discusses how to transport IP datagrams over IEEE 1394.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.