IEEE 1394

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IEEE 1394 (also known by Sony's "I-Link" and Apple's "Firewire" brand names) is a 1995 personal computer and digital video serial bus interface standard offering high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data services. It is defined in IEEE 1394.

The system is used commonly for connection of data storage devices and digital video cameras. This is used instead of the more common USB due to its faster speed, and because it does not need a computer host. It is also does not need to send a signal telling the other component that it is "alive" a data interruption that makes USB ineffective for professional video work.

Firewire can transfer data between devices at 100, 200, or 400 Mbps, with a planed increase to 2 Gbps. Cable length is limited to 4.5 metres but up to 16 cables can be daisy-chained yielding a total length of 72 metres.

It can daisy-chain together up to 63 peripherals in a tree-like structure (as opposed to SCSI's linear structure). It allows peer-to-peer device communication, such as communication between a scanner and a printer, to take place without using system memory or the CPU. It is designed to support plug-and-play and hot swapping. Its six-wire cable is not only more convenient than SCSI cables but can supply up to 60 watts of power, allowing low-consumption devices to operate without a separate power cord.

Some expensive camcorders have included this bus since 1995. It is expected to be used to carry SCSI, with possible application to home automation using repeaters.

See also: Universal Serial Bus

Additional Resources

  • 1394LA ( administers the rights for patented inventions necessary to implement IEEE 1394.

Based on material from FOLDOC, used with permission.