All About FireWire

Firewire and USB are two competing types of connection used for cameras and external storage devices. Although USB is the most popular form of connection for consumers there are plenty of reasons why video editors are much better off choosing Firewire devices.

There are some important things that you should learn about FireWire before you decide whether you want to use it.

What is it?

FireWire is similar to USB connections in that it can be used to transfer data between devices. FireWire is designed to quickly and easily connect devices to your computer.

FireWire was initially developed by Apple and was standardized in 1995. FireWire connections are very similar to USB. The technology focuses on transferring data quickly and also making sure that all of the devices are hot plugable. Power is also provided through the cable meaning that no additional power sources are required.

Popularity

If you know anything about video editing or have Sony cameras then you probably already know about FireWire although you might not realise it. FireWire connections are also known as IEE 1394 or Sony i.Link connectors.

Speed

FireWire is a very fast technology. The newest version of FireWire supports speeds of 800Mbps which is much higher than the 480Mbps speed of USB 2.0. This is thought to increase to a maximum 3.2 Gbps once the cables are improved.

63 devices can be connected to a single Firewire bus at any one time. The technolgoy is supported by Mac OSx and Windows 98 and later. The devices are all hot pluggable which means they can be plugged into your computer even if they are switched on.

There are two different versions of Firewire still in use today. FireWire 400 is the original standard which is also known as 1394a. This supports speeds of 400 Mbps and is much faster than USB 1.0 which was only 12 Mbps at the time. This is older technology but it is still used by some devices.

The maximum length of a cable using FireWire 400 is 4.5 meters. With the introduction of USB 2.0 pushing speeds up to 480Mbps Firewire was overhauled.

FireWire 800 was introduced in 2002 and supports transfer speeds of 800 Mbps. This is much faster than USB 2.0 and can support cable lengths of up to 100 meters. This standard is known as 1394b. FireWire 800 devices are backwards compatible with FireWire 400 devices and cables, the only difference will be that they operate at lower speeds.

Connection

Firewire connections are Peer to Peer connections. This means that all of the devices which support FireWire are intelligent and capable of communicating with one another. This means that it's possible to connect two firewire cameras or other devices together and if they support it transfer files between them. This means that you don't actually need to use a computer to do this.

FireWire is the ultimate connection for anyone interested in video editing. This is not only faster than USB but it also uses much better technology which is capable of providing more features and better throughput.

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