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Definition: FireWire


Officially the IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus (HPSB), FireWire is a high-speed interface developed and promoted mostly by Apple for video transmission. Introduced in 2000, FireWire was added to camcorders and a variety of A/V equipment. Even early iPods could connect via FireWire. However, on modern camcorders, FireWire was replaced with USB, HDMI and other video outputs.

FireWire 400 and 800
FireWire 400 was limited to a distance of 4.5 meters. In 2003, FireWire 800 increased the range to 100 meters and doubled the transfer rate. FireWire supported 63 devices, real-time data transfer, hot swapping and simultaneous multiple speeds. The faster 1600 and 3200 versions never got into production. See PC data buses.

  FIREWIRE VERSION TRANSFER RATES

  1394a - 4.5 METER CABLE LENGTH

  FW400     400 Mbps


  1394b - 100 METER CABLE LENGTH

  FW800     800 Mbps
  FW1600   1600 Mbps
  FW3200   3200 Mbps





FireWire Sockets and Compatibility
FW800 was backward compatible with FW400. One end of a "bilingual cable" had an FW800 plug, while the other end was FW400. Sony's i.Link was a miniaturized socket that connected to cables with i.Link, FW400 or FW800 at the other end.






Easy to Tell
FireWire sockets were easily distinguished from their USB counterparts.






Dual Mode FW/USB
This external hard drive connected to the computer via FireWire or USB, whichever cable was plugged in.