TechWeb: Apple’s FireWire ‘has beat off USB and is poised to break out this year’

“After running in the middle of the pack with several other transmission schemes for a decade, 1394 is poised to break out this year. The high-speed technology is about to take its place tying together the pieces in the home theater’s move from analog to digital TV. In addition, the technology–also called FireWire and i-Link–is beginning to show up in surprising ways in enterprise applications,” W. David Gardner reports for TechWeb News.

“‘The really interesting stuff-wireless–is coming later this year,’ said 1394 Trade Association (TA) executive director James Snider in an interview. ‘We’ve already showed that 1394 wireless can go through walls with no degradation of the signal.’ Snider said more than 1300 separate products now include 1394, ranging from HDD drives and set-top boxes to televisions and DVDs,” Gardner reports.

“The technology has had to hurdle several obstacles along the way. It has beat off competitive threats from DVI, Ethernet, and USB. Hollywood interests, too, tied up the technology for years, as the film industry worried 1394’s capability of producing perfect copies of films would cut into profits. The result is a regulation that permits users of devices with 1394 technology to copy material for personal use,” Gardner reports.

“‘FireWire will be in virtually every high-end computer–in workstations and, particularly, in Apple machines,’ Snider said… He noted that Apple is putting the technology in its computers to beef-up its traditional emphasis on graphics and video. In fact, Apple pioneered the 1394 technology, which it called FireWire. Snider said the FireWire moniker might, in fact, replace the 1394 title as the technology becomes more widespread,” Gardner reports.

Full article here.


  1. Well it’s got to be better than those 5hitty SCART connectors, but I’d like the designed with a catch, so that they stay in place better. (So you have to squeeze it to pull the cable out. Maybe not like ethernet, but like ADC, which seem less obtrisuve.

    Having said that, I’ve never had a firewire cable fall out, so maybe I’m trying to solve a problem that I only think exists.

  2. USB has its place, Jack A. USB 1.1 is fine for mice and keyboards, for example. Even printers and scanners can use USB 1.1, although they are relatively slow. Besides, Apple had to support USB in order to give its users access to low-cost peripherals and devices such as digital still cameras (video cameras sport FireWire, but not still cameras).

    You might have a better case against USB 2.0. However, I would still argue the Apple is better off supporting USB 2.0 than not. For instance, my USB 2.0 memory stick was flaky on older USB 1.1 ports (PC or Mac), but works fine on a G5 PowerMac. Eventually USB may disappear, but don’t hold your breath. It took a long time for Mac ADB or PC parallel/serial ports to fade away.

  3. You know, it’s fine that one says ‘firewire is the future,’ and I’m all for it, but I want to buy devices that take adavantage of it. My scanner (and most)is USB 2.0, so is my digital camera. I have no need of portable storage, either. I’d love to ‘adopt this technology’ but there are no devices for me to adopt with.

  4. Yep there’s place for USB1.1. It’s a perfectly good technololgy for low speed/low bandwidth devices.

    That USB2.0 is failing to displace Firewire is encouraging. It’s the use in DV cameras that has propelled it as an accepted standard. Fortunately Apple got there first and the camcorder manufacturers picked it up as the best technology available at the time.

    I do wonder if there’s a possibility of Apple licensing the iPod interface/OS to third parties. This is what Microsoft are looking to do with their rucksack sized ‘ipod killer’. If Apple could do that, mainly a music player, but get quicktime in there too, they might be able to beat M$ at their own game.

    Not saying that’s what they SHOULD do, it’s just an idea.

  5. “It’s the use in DV cameras that has propelled it as an accepted standard. Fortunately Apple got there first and the camcorder manufacturers picked it up as the best technology available at the time.”

    It is my understanding that DV cameras use firewire because it is superior to USB 2.0 in sustained download times as required by DV, not because they picked it up first. While USB 2.0 is rated faster on paper, it is a “bursty” technology and over long downloads it can’t come near sustaining its stated transfer speed. Benchmakrs would confirm this.

    Maybe I misunderstood your meaning.

  6. King Mel:

    While I applaud your optimism, I have to ask “Can you say ‘Intel’?” USB=Intel, and they are not going to roll over and die.

    You can see the evidence of this in USB peripherals coming out, even thought it is a clearly inferior technology to FireWire. For example, Edirol has just released an audio interface to allow recording to a computer hard drive. USB 2. There are lots of external hard drives that are USB 2 only. These exist, even though for sustained throughput, plain ol’ FireWire 400 easily beats USB 2.

    I am not saying that FireWire will “lose”. But USB 2 will be around for a long time.

    As for serial/parallel ports fading away, I have noticed no such trend. Every non-Mac that I see has ’em, or, on small laptops, adds them with the port replicator gizmo. We sure would hate to obsolete anything, after all.


    PS Standard Apology: Please forgive spelling errors. No system wide spelling checker on this Dell POS at work.

  7. Wireless FireWire?

    Tell me more!

    Does anyone know of a link that discusses this in terms a dummy such as I can understand?

    What then of WiFi and Bluetooth?


  8. Speaking of faster technology, some smart guys at NC University came up with a faster TCP/IP, a whopping 6,000 times faster than broadband.

    It’s expected to be implemented within a year!

    This is no BS either.

    Read it here

    w00t, hang on to those 56k modems folks!

    Cure disease small application from Stanford University. 100% secure. Very easy.

  9. Actually FW 400 is supposedly faster than USB 2.0. I have nothing to back that up, but I remember hearing that quite a few times when USB 2.0 tests first came out.

    FW800 blows everything out of the water!

  10. “Wireless FireWire? […] What then of WiFi and Bluetooth?”

    There’s some overlap, sure.

    Wireless FireWire, I’d imagine, would be used in environments where you have devices which are physically seperated.

    Fun personal example: I have a DVR with Firewire ports. It sits on one end of
    my living room. I have a computer with Firewire. It sits on the other end of my living room. I’d love to hook one up to the other, but (a) I don’t want to run a wire the length of my living room and (b) I think it’s too long for Firewire anyway (though maybe not). I’d love Wireless Firewire for something like that.

    I don’t need the whole “Internet Setup” hassle of WiFi. BlueTooth would be good, but there is an issue of range and speed–namely, that BlueTooth is too slow and I’m not sure it has the range to get clear across the room.

    Both of these could be updated, sure. But it’s one of those “why bother” cases. For example, Apple could have developed ADB 2 to compete with USB, but why bother.

  11. Jump – No. USB2.0 isn’t used because it wasn’t around at the time these interfaces were around. USB1.1 wasn’t used because it’s not fast enough. But even if it had been, it’s unlikely to have been picked becuase it’s not standalone in the same way that firewire is. Two cameras with firewire can speak to each other without an intermediary computer. With USB, that’s more difficult because it’s not what it was designed to do.

    Had USB2.0 been around first, despite it being less appropriate, it may well have become the standard anyway.

    That’s not to say it was entirely lucky on Apple’s part, because they made a superior protocol happen despite there not being any real competition at the time.

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