FireWire Questions & Answers

What is FireWire/IEEE 1394?

    A serial bus used to connect external computer and consumer electronic devices to computers and consumer electronic consoles.

    What does IEEE 1394 mean?

      IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) refers to the engineering corps that developed the 1394th standard, defining the high-performance serial input/output (I/O) bus used to connect peripheral devices. There are now two standards: IEEE 1394a, which refers to the original standard adopted in 1995, and IEEE 1394b, which refers to the new standard, adopted in 2002.

      What is the relationship between IEEE 1394, FireWire, iLink and DV?

        These four names all refer to the same interface:
        • IEEE 1394 is the term commonly used in the computer industry.
        • FireWire is the brand name used by Apple.
        • iLink is the brand name used by Sony for both consumer electronics and personal computers.
        • DV is short for “Digital Video,” and is used as the logo for the interface on most video camcorders..

        What Are The Benefits Of The FireWire Interfaces?

          The FireWire interface is a fast, cross-platform serial bus, and is ideal for digital audio, video and graphic applications that demand plenty of bandwidth. Both versions of FireWire offer Plug & Play connectivity, so all you have to do is plug in your drive and begin using it, they also allow up to 63 devices to be connected via a single bus. FireWire also supports both isochronous and asynchronous capabilities, meaning that it can guarantee real-time data delivery, so there is no danger of inaccurately ordered or delayed frames.

          What Is The Difference Between FireWire 400 And FireWire 800?

            Essentially, the main difference between the two interfaces can be summed up in one word: speed. FireWire 800 effectively doubles the bandwidth of the original FireWire 400 interface. The new FireWire 800 interface offers truly impressive results, with speeds up to 800Mb/s for a single bus, and even greater for several buses in RAID0 configurations. Other key advancements include the support of increased cabling distances and a newly enhanced arbitration architecture. Utilizing cables constructed of professional-grade glass optical fiber, when both devices are connected via a FireWire 800 hub, FireWire 800 can burst data across 100 meters of cable. The new arbitration scheme greatly improves on the existing architecture by incorporating advanced 8B10B data encoding (based on codes used by Gigabit Ethernet and Fibre Channel), which reduces signal distortion, and also improves the arbitration time by prepping the arbitration while the current data packet is being sent, so that data is sent as soon as the current transmission is completed.

            What Are The Ideal Uses For FireWire?

              FireWire helped fuel a revolution for digital content creators, and was awarded a 2001 Primetime Emmy Engineering Award by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for its contribution. Due to its high bandwidth and support of both isochronous and asynchronous data delivery, FireWire has found a very successful place in both the computer and consumer electronics industries. Whether connecting game consoles, personal video recorders, home stereo equipment, digital TVs, hard drives, CD/DVD-RW drives, printers, scanners, tape drives or other digital hardware equipment, FireWire is well-suited to handle all these various requirements. With the advent of the new FireWire 800 standard, the revolution created by the original will only grow. For those working with digital video, the new standard will enable new bandwidth-intensive applications, such as multiple-stream, uncompressed, standard-definition video.

              Will FireWire 400 Devices Run Faster When Connected To A FireWire 800 Port?

                Unfortunately, this is not the case. In order to attain FireWire 800 speeds, both the device and port have to be FireWire 800 enabled. For instance, an external hard drive with a FireWire 800 9-pin connection will only reach FireWire 800 transfer rates when it is connected to a FireWire 800 9-pin host bus adapter card via a properly certified FireWire 800 9-pin to 9-pin beta cable. When a FireWire 400 device is connected to a FireWire 800 port, the FireWire 400 device will only operate at the original FireWire 400 speeds.

                Will FireWire 800 Devices Work On FireWire 400 Ports And Vice Versa?

                  The new standard was designed to be backwards compatible, meaning that FireWire 800 devices will still operate via the original FireWire 400 port. To connect a FireWire 800 device to a FireWire 400 port, a specific adapter cable must be used, though. There are two types of FireWire 400 ports: 6-pin and 4-pin. For FireWire 800 devices to work, they must be connected by placing the 9-pin end of the FireWire cable into the FireWire 800 port of the device, and the opposite 6-pin or 4-pin end into the FireWire 400 port. The same holds true for FireWire 400 devices being connected to a FireWire 800 host port. The 4-pin or 6- pin end of the FireWire cable must be connected to the FireWire 400 port of the device, and the 9-pin end must be connected to the FireWire 800 port. When FireWire 400 and FireWire 800 devices are mixed, all transfer rates revert to the original FireWire 400 speed.