December 17, 2007 8:18 AM PST

FireWire speeds set to quadruple

FireWire speeds set to quadruple
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The speed of FireWire is set to quadruple next year after the group behind it announced a new specification for the networking interface.

FireWire is the best-known brand name for the 1394 standard, which is also known as i.Link. The technology is used as a high-speed data interface for linking devices such as external hard drives and camcorders to PCs.

On Thursday, the 1394 Trade Association announced the S3200 electrical specification for FireWire. The specification builds upon the existing IEEE 1394b standard by boosting the maximum speed from 800 megabits per second to 3.2Gbps. Importantly, S3200 can use the cables and connectors already in use for FireWire 800 products, the association claimed.

"The S3200 standard will sustain the position of IEEE 1394 as the absolute performance leader in multipurpose I/O ports for consumer applications in computer and CE devices," the 1394 Trade Association's executive director, James Snider, said in a statement. "There is a very clear migration path from 800Mbps to 3.2Gbps, with no need for modifications to the standard and no requirement for new cables or connectors."

The association hopes to have the S3200 specification ratified by early February, and has used the speed boost to position FireWire as an alternative to other recent interfacing technologies.

The association's statement claimed the development of S3200 meant users would see no advantage from eSATA, a competing connectivity standard that is starting to appear on hard drives and PCs alike. The association said that eSATA is not faster, nor can it provide electrical power to devices as FireWire can. S3200 is also much faster than USB 2.0 and can provide more power to devices than USB 2.0.

The association also said that FireWire would soon be able to operate over cable television coaxial cables, and said S3200 would make the standard fast enough to move uncompressed high-definition television signals over long distances at a lower cost than HDMI, the current standard for HD connections.

FireWire is, according to the association, "the only separable interface today that can record HD programs in their full digital quality while also meeting the content protection requirements of copyright holders."

David Meyer of ZDNet UK reported from London.

See more CNET content tagged:
association, FireWire, specification, standard, USB 2.0

60 comments

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And yet...
the proliferation of inferior USB 2.0 drives will continue to saturate
the market and people will continue to purchase them in their
sheepish glee.

That and no PC manufacturers other than Apple will embrace it.
Kind of like Firewire 800...
Posted by jelloburn (252 comments )
Reply Link Flag
USB is simple
The proliferation of USB has more to do with the simplicity of implementation. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn't 1394 a network based technology over IP? This in itself causes more complexity than a simple daisy chaining (serial) bus protocol.

Keep in mind, USB was never meant to be high-speed. USB "1" was simply a keyboard, printer, etc device connector. once the simplicity caught on, then the need for higher speed (USB 2) was apparent. Now, USB 3, will be fiber based and provide much higher levels of throughput and retain the sane serial interface.
Posted by frankwick (413 comments )
Link Flag
And yet...
the proliferation of inferior USB 2.0 drives will continue to saturate
the market and people will continue to purchase them in their
sheepish glee.

That and no PC manufacturers other than Apple will embrace it.
Kind of like Firewire 800...
Posted by jelloburn (252 comments )
Reply Link Flag
USB is simple
The proliferation of USB has more to do with the simplicity of implementation. Someone correct me if I am wrong, but isn't 1394 a network based technology over IP? This in itself causes more complexity than a simple daisy chaining (serial) bus protocol.

Keep in mind, USB was never meant to be high-speed. USB "1" was simply a keyboard, printer, etc device connector. once the simplicity caught on, then the need for higher speed (USB 2) was apparent. Now, USB 3, will be fiber based and provide much higher levels of throughput and retain the sane serial interface.
Posted by frankwick (413 comments )
Link Flag
::yawn::
FireWire was an excellent technology from a hardware-perspective, but no-one wanted to pay the HUGE royalties to Apple and the huge price to Ti. USB 2.0, whatever it is, is cheap and royalty free...the only cost is if you want USB-IF certification, which is optional.

I would've liked to see more happen w/ Firewire, but the consumer dictates the market, and the market went with USB 2.0.

Personally, I think if Apple wanted IEEE1394 to succeed, they should drop the royalty on it. Otherwise, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, 4.0, etc., will continue to dominate the market, for better or worse.
Posted by close5828 (230 comments )
Reply Link Flag
$0.25 per unit is not huge!
The royalty per device for Firewire is a just a quarter. If I recall correctly HDMI has a royalty of a $1 so the royalties in perspective aren't huge.

Furthermore, for high bandwidth devices Firewire is more popular than ever. I see people almost every day who are buying Firewire devices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
there is no royalty fee for the 1394 standard
There is no royalty fee for using the 1394 standard. The only
reason a vendor would need to pay Apple's license fee is if they
want to use the "FireWire" name. Many PC vendors simply call it the
"1394 port", or rename it something else (Sony's "i.Link"), and
either way, there's no royalty fee.

My point is that Apple's licensing fee doesn't prevent any vendor
from using the standard on their equipment.
Posted by G|Net (89 comments )
Link Flag
Intel, not the consumer, dictated it
Oh yeah, Intel. You forgot them in this discussion?!
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
::yawn::
FireWire was an excellent technology from a hardware-perspective, but no-one wanted to pay the HUGE royalties to Apple and the huge price to Ti. USB 2.0, whatever it is, is cheap and royalty free...the only cost is if you want USB-IF certification, which is optional.

I would've liked to see more happen w/ Firewire, but the consumer dictates the market, and the market went with USB 2.0.

Personally, I think if Apple wanted IEEE1394 to succeed, they should drop the royalty on it. Otherwise, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, 4.0, etc., will continue to dominate the market, for better or worse.
Posted by close5828 (230 comments )
Reply Link Flag
$0.25 per unit is not huge!
The royalty per device for Firewire is a just a quarter. If I recall correctly HDMI has a royalty of a $1 so the royalties in perspective aren't huge.

Furthermore, for high bandwidth devices Firewire is more popular than ever. I see people almost every day who are buying Firewire devices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
there is no royalty fee for the 1394 standard
There is no royalty fee for using the 1394 standard. The only
reason a vendor would need to pay Apple's license fee is if they
want to use the "FireWire" name. Many PC vendors simply call it the
"1394 port", or rename it something else (Sony's "i.Link"), and
either way, there's no royalty fee.

My point is that Apple's licensing fee doesn't prevent any vendor
from using the standard on their equipment.
Posted by G|Net (89 comments )
Link Flag
Intel, not the consumer, dictated it
Oh yeah, Intel. You forgot them in this discussion?!
Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Link Flag
That rocks!
Obviously FW-800 didn't really catch on but this new standard is
awesome. With all the problems that the HDMI is having, I hope
that the new FW will take it over. I also do video editing being able
to stream HD over firewire would be very nice. I would not need to
buy separate capture cards so this new standard will actually save
me money and time.
Posted by mrbean_jazz (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That rocks!
Obviously FW-800 didn't really catch on but this new standard is
awesome. With all the problems that the HDMI is having, I hope
that the new FW will take it over. I also do video editing being able
to stream HD over firewire would be very nice. I would not need to
buy separate capture cards so this new standard will actually save
me money and time.
Posted by mrbean_jazz (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Speed not quadrupling... physical media changing
FireWire started out at 50 Mbps back in 1990 or so. It migrated to up to 400 Mbps many years ago.

It garnered IEEE support and went to new connectors and faster speeds. The faster speeds included up through 3.2 Gbps but only over fiber -- even though the highest copper based speed to catch on anywhere (even at Apple) was 800 Mbps.

This new iteration of the standard takes the 3.2 Gbps to copper. This makes the implementation much more palatable to the end user and takes it out of the realm of just those few who would actually implement 3.2 Gbps FireWire over fiber.
Posted by shadowself (202 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Speed not quadrupling... physical media changing
FireWire started out at 50 Mbps back in 1990 or so. It migrated to up to 400 Mbps many years ago.

It garnered IEEE support and went to new connectors and faster speeds. The faster speeds included up through 3.2 Gbps but only over fiber -- even though the highest copper based speed to catch on anywhere (even at Apple) was 800 Mbps.

This new iteration of the standard takes the 3.2 Gbps to copper. This makes the implementation much more palatable to the end user and takes it out of the realm of just those few who would actually implement 3.2 Gbps FireWire over fiber.
Posted by shadowself (202 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Too late I think
Of the past 25-30 computers I either owned or used at work all had USB. 2 had FireWire but it wasn't hooked up and those were fairly old at that.
Posted by WDS2 (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firewire 3200's main competitor is eSATA not USB2!
2/25?

How old are these machines? I saw $400 notebooks only a few weeks ago that had a Firewire port. I will agree that I am starting to see some low end desktops have dropped Firewire, but the vast majority of Firewire devices are video cameras or hard drives. Nobody is going to do video editing on a $400 desktop and most $400 computers don't have anything of any significant size that needs to be backed up. A lot of those users don't even backup anything.

Firewire was never intended to be for keyboards or mice it was intended for bandwidth hungry devices like video cameras or external hard drives. If you don't own either you were never Firewire's target audience. The target audience for Firewire 3200 isn't granny with her $500 computer. It is designed to compete with eSATA and USB3 assuming it ever comes out.

USB2 I think isn't going anywhere and even the biggest Firewire or eSATA supporter isn't claiming that it is disappearing. USB2 is still good enough for low end devices and I don't see anyone realistically coming up with a standard that is much cheaper. USB cabling only has 4 pins and a thin plastic jacket around the copper wires. You can't get much simpler than that. 6' USB cables are selling wholesale for as little as 80-90c and 10' cables are just over a $1. The controller ships are similarly dirt cheap. If they made the controller much cheaper I don't know if there would be enough profit to make it worth making.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
Too late I think
Of the past 25-30 computers I either owned or used at work all had USB. 2 had FireWire but it wasn't hooked up and those were fairly old at that.
Posted by WDS2 (183 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Firewire 3200's main competitor is eSATA not USB2!
2/25?

How old are these machines? I saw $400 notebooks only a few weeks ago that had a Firewire port. I will agree that I am starting to see some low end desktops have dropped Firewire, but the vast majority of Firewire devices are video cameras or hard drives. Nobody is going to do video editing on a $400 desktop and most $400 computers don't have anything of any significant size that needs to be backed up. A lot of those users don't even backup anything.

Firewire was never intended to be for keyboards or mice it was intended for bandwidth hungry devices like video cameras or external hard drives. If you don't own either you were never Firewire's target audience. The target audience for Firewire 3200 isn't granny with her $500 computer. It is designed to compete with eSATA and USB3 assuming it ever comes out.

USB2 I think isn't going anywhere and even the biggest Firewire or eSATA supporter isn't claiming that it is disappearing. USB2 is still good enough for low end devices and I don't see anyone realistically coming up with a standard that is much cheaper. USB cabling only has 4 pins and a thin plastic jacket around the copper wires. You can't get much simpler than that. 6' USB cables are selling wholesale for as little as 80-90c and 10' cables are just over a $1. The controller ships are similarly dirt cheap. If they made the controller much cheaper I don't know if there would be enough profit to make it worth making.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
USB is irrelevant to HDTV.
USB 2.0 does not have the bandwidth for HDTV. the choice is E-SATA or FireWire. The advantage of E-SATA is compatibility with the hard drive. It is nothing more than a pass through. FireWire has a far greater cable length and can be used to power devices.

Short term, E-SATA will win. Long term it will be FireWire.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Long term until they invent something else.
Who cares? Neither will win. There's no battle. Devices will use whatever they feel like using.

Maybe what we'll be using in a month hasn't been invented yet. Maybe it'll be whatever is cheapest.

The real winner is whatever company gives me one wire that'll just hook to everything, power and data. I don't want USB, Firewire, Coax, HDMI, S-VIDEO, and whatever the heck that red, white, yellow three connector thingy is.

I just want one wire that goes to everything, and that provides electrical power for anything from my keyboard, to my washer and dryer. Please! I just want one wire.

That might not be possible, but I was in the store and I saw a pack of six different styles of universal serial bus cables. There was one for the computer, one for the cell phone, one for the mp3 player. Which is nice, but it sort of defeats the purpose of being universal.

That doesn't have much to do with Firewire except for that fact that it's just one more freaking cable I have to deal with.

And it's not just the cables I have to deal with. Now I have to deal with multiple versions of said cable? Screw that!!! Just put a wireless card in everything and be done with it.
Posted by Imalittleteapot (835 comments )
Link Flag
Not so fast...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/17/forget-hdmi-and-displayport-kleer-and-usb-vying-for-that-hdtv/" target="_newWindow">http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/17/forget-hdmi-and-displayport-kleer-and-usb-vying-for-that-hdtv/</a>

[i]"The USB Implementer's Forum is planning to rollout a variant of tethered USB in 2008 to carry compressed high-def video between TVs and mobile devices. It appears unrelated to USB 3.0 and targets both laptops and personal media players -- however you might choose to define that. A spokesman for the organization said that developers "could layer HDMI's HDCP encryption on top." So it's not definite. But with the studios fighting hard to "protect" their content, well, it's a given that some form of DRM will be there. The new USB linkage is meant to complement HDMI which primarily carries uncompressed video between living room A/V equipment... and an increasing number of media-centric laptops"[/i]

Sure, it would blow goats, but that doesn't mean that folks aren't busting their humps to make a USB/HDMI hybrid rig-up, which makes it relevant (silly and short-sighted yes, but still relevant).

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
USB is irrelevant to HDTV.
USB 2.0 does not have the bandwidth for HDTV. the choice is E-SATA or FireWire. The advantage of E-SATA is compatibility with the hard drive. It is nothing more than a pass through. FireWire has a far greater cable length and can be used to power devices.

Short term, E-SATA will win. Long term it will be FireWire.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Long term until they invent something else.
Who cares? Neither will win. There's no battle. Devices will use whatever they feel like using.

Maybe what we'll be using in a month hasn't been invented yet. Maybe it'll be whatever is cheapest.

The real winner is whatever company gives me one wire that'll just hook to everything, power and data. I don't want USB, Firewire, Coax, HDMI, S-VIDEO, and whatever the heck that red, white, yellow three connector thingy is.

I just want one wire that goes to everything, and that provides electrical power for anything from my keyboard, to my washer and dryer. Please! I just want one wire.

That might not be possible, but I was in the store and I saw a pack of six different styles of universal serial bus cables. There was one for the computer, one for the cell phone, one for the mp3 player. Which is nice, but it sort of defeats the purpose of being universal.

That doesn't have much to do with Firewire except for that fact that it's just one more freaking cable I have to deal with.

And it's not just the cables I have to deal with. Now I have to deal with multiple versions of said cable? Screw that!!! Just put a wireless card in everything and be done with it.
Posted by Imalittleteapot (835 comments )
Link Flag
Not so fast...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/17/forget-hdmi-and-displayport-kleer-and-usb-vying-for-that-hdtv/" target="_newWindow">http://www.engadget.com/2007/12/17/forget-hdmi-and-displayport-kleer-and-usb-vying-for-that-hdtv/</a>

[i]"The USB Implementer's Forum is planning to rollout a variant of tethered USB in 2008 to carry compressed high-def video between TVs and mobile devices. It appears unrelated to USB 3.0 and targets both laptops and personal media players -- however you might choose to define that. A spokesman for the organization said that developers "could layer HDMI's HDCP encryption on top." So it's not definite. But with the studios fighting hard to "protect" their content, well, it's a given that some form of DRM will be there. The new USB linkage is meant to complement HDMI which primarily carries uncompressed video between living room A/V equipment... and an increasing number of media-centric laptops"[/i]

Sure, it would blow goats, but that doesn't mean that folks aren't busting their humps to make a USB/HDMI hybrid rig-up, which makes it relevant (silly and short-sighted yes, but still relevant).

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Faster, cheaper standard exists for HD
The SD-SDI and HD-SDI specs can handle full resolution uncompressed HD all the way up to 1080p, over BNC Coax. But of course consumers don't get to have a chance at this format, because it does not provide copy protection. Hopefully the new FireWire spec will not be so limited.
Posted by chash360 (394 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SD-SDI and HD-SDI; definitely better, but cheaper?
SD-SDI and HD-SDI are both definitely better in that they use uncompressed video streams whereas all of the consumer digital standards use compression at some point, but I would rather question that they are cheaper to implement. The cabling for example I can definitely find HDMI and DVI cable that is cheaper for the shorter lengths at least. For long runs I would agree that BNC Coax is dirt cheap.

The real issue is that monitors that use HD-SDI generally aren't cheap. I think most consumers jaws would drop at the prices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
SD-SDI and HD-SDI; definitely better, but cheaper?
SD-SDI and HD-SDI are both definitely better in that they use uncompressed video streams whereas all of the consumer digital standards use compression at some point, but I would rather question that they are cheaper to implement. The cabling for example I can definitely find HDMI and DVI cable that is cheaper for the shorter lengths at least. For long runs I would agree that BNC Coax is dirt cheap.

The real issue is that monitors that use HD-SDI generally aren't cheap. I think most consumers jaws would drop at the prices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
Faster, cheaper standard exists for HD
The SD-SDI and HD-SDI specs can handle full resolution uncompressed HD all the way up to 1080p, over BNC Coax. But of course consumers don't get to have a chance at this format, because it does not provide copy protection. Hopefully the new FireWire spec will not be so limited.
Posted by chash360 (394 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SD-SDI and HD-SDI; definitely better, but cheaper?
SD-SDI and HD-SDI are both definitely better in that they use uncompressed video streams whereas all of the consumer digital standards use compression at some point, but I would rather question that they are cheaper to implement. The cabling for example I can definitely find HDMI and DVI cable that is cheaper for the shorter lengths at least. For long runs I would agree that BNC Coax is dirt cheap.

The real issue is that monitors that use HD-SDI generally aren't cheap. I think most consumers jaws would drop at the prices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
SD-SDI and HD-SDI; definitely better, but cheaper?
SD-SDI and HD-SDI are both definitely better in that they use uncompressed video streams whereas all of the consumer digital standards use compression at some point, but I would rather question that they are cheaper to implement. The cabling for example I can definitely find HDMI and DVI cable that is cheaper for the shorter lengths at least. For long runs I would agree that BNC Coax is dirt cheap.

The real issue is that monitors that use HD-SDI generally aren't cheap. I think most consumers jaws would drop at the prices.
Posted by BigGuns149 (790 comments )
Link Flag
What REALLY killed 1394
What really killed Firewire/1394 for PC use and convinced Intel to NOT put 1394 on the Motherboard was tow actions that Apple took in '98/'99. Yes I said Apple.

Intel was fully behind 1394 as being the high speed serial bus on their reference MB's (ask me how I know); UNTIL Apple did one very stupid thing IMO. On Steve Jobs' return to CEO position at Apple he initiated an action to try to push Apple IP claims and royalty revenue harder and one of the first actions was that Apple starting claiming that all companies that built 1394 into their products were going to have to pay Apple $1/per port (yes, PER PORT) due to Apple IP as fundamental to the standard. You get 3 guesses as to what Intel's reaction was to this claim and the first two don;t count.

On top of that, get in the wayback machine and ask yourself this question: In the early days of "Legacy free" talk around PC's, when the very first iMAC came out and Apple removed most all legacy IO from the machine, which, pray tell, serial port was included on that machine and which was NOT? You guess it. The VERY FIRST iMac from Apple included USB and NOT 1394 (only the G3 included both). Up until Apple put USB in the first iMac there was no real market for USB peripherals. Why? Because Microsoft had not released drivers? Why? Because there were not enough USB peripherals. Classic chicken and the egg scenario. When Apple came out with the iMac and the only port for a mouse and keyboard was USB, viola.

That's right. Apple killed the market for 1394 in PC.s
Posted by think4yerslf (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What REALLY killed 1394
What really killed Firewire/1394 for PC use and convinced Intel to NOT put 1394 on the Motherboard was tow actions that Apple took in '98/'99. Yes I said Apple.

Intel was fully behind 1394 as being the high speed serial bus on their reference MB's (ask me how I know); UNTIL Apple did one very stupid thing IMO. On Steve Jobs' return to CEO position at Apple he initiated an action to try to push Apple IP claims and royalty revenue harder and one of the first actions was that Apple starting claiming that all companies that built 1394 into their products were going to have to pay Apple $1/per port (yes, PER PORT) due to Apple IP as fundamental to the standard. You get 3 guesses as to what Intel's reaction was to this claim and the first two don;t count.

On top of that, get in the wayback machine and ask yourself this question: In the early days of "Legacy free" talk around PC's, when the very first iMAC came out and Apple removed most all legacy IO from the machine, which, pray tell, serial port was included on that machine and which was NOT? You guess it. The VERY FIRST iMac from Apple included USB and NOT 1394 (only the G3 included both). Up until Apple put USB in the first iMac there was no real market for USB peripherals. Why? Because Microsoft had not released drivers? Why? Because there were not enough USB peripherals. Classic chicken and the egg scenario. When Apple came out with the iMac and the only port for a mouse and keyboard was USB, viola.

That's right. Apple killed the market for 1394 in PC.s
Posted by think4yerslf (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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