FireWire technology changes this summer

reprinted from IT Business Net

An Excerpt from Esther Schindler’s piece:

More than ten years ago, engineers at Apple Computer developed a high-speed method of transferring data, which they dubbed FireWire. The company included it on all new Macintoshes, and also brought the technology to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), hoping it would become a cross-platform standard. It did. In December 1995, the IEEE released an official FireWire specification called IEEE 1394, which describes data-transfer speeds of 100 Mbps, 200 Mbps, and 400 Mbps.

Today, FireWire is defined by the IEEE 1394-1995, IEEE 1394a-2000, and IEEE 1394b standards. Devices that use these standards can move large amounts of data using simplified cabling, hot swapping, and transfer speeds of up to 800 megabits per second.

But that’s today, or at least today’s technology. How is FireWire evolving?

Coming up, 1394 and Ethernet will be able to reside on the same device, so both data including audio and video can run over 1394 and Ethernet along the same CAT-5 cable. In effect, explained a representative of the 1394 Trade Association, the system will decide which standard to use to maximize efficiency for the application. 1394c is a way to reuse the gigabit Ethernet PHY for the 1394 protocol by defining how that PHY can be used in a 1394 environment.

The bottom line is that with one piece of silicon, a 1394c-equipped network will pass 1394 signals to 1394 devices and Ethernet signals to Ethernet devices. That device spec is now being approved by the 1394 Trade Association and the IEEE 802.3 committee. It is expected to be in place by summer.

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