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FireWire to climb to 3.2Gbps

updated 12:00 pm EST, Sat December 15, 2007

FireWire S3200

A future version of FireWire will quadruple the speed of today's fastest version, the IEEE 1394 Trade Association has revealed. Officially known as S3200, the format will build on the same connectors and technology used for today's FireWire 800 but operate at a peak of 3.2 gigabits per second, or 400 megabytes per second; this is four times the 800 megabits and 100 megabytes possible through the earlier standard. It does so without losing the qualities that makes FireWire unique, the Association says. Unlike USB, the format uses very little processor overhead and operates near its peak as long as the source is quick enough. It also supplies more power than either USB or external Serial ATA. As a result, the format can transmit quickly at distances of 328 feet or more when using specialized cables.

S3200 is expected to first be used for fast storage, such as multi-disk external hard drives, but should also be useful for consumer electronics. As it preserves copy protection in the same way that FireWire 400 and 800 do, the new standard can be used for cable set-top boxes and other devices where operators may need to control the video output. Camcorders and HDTVs should also be able to use the extra speed over time.

The IEEE 1394 group says it will begin to ratify S3200 in January but should complete the process as soon as early February, clearing the route for shipping products later in the year. No company has officially committed to updated FireWire products, though Apple is the only major computer maker that currently incorporates FireWire 800 as a standard feature on some of its systems, including the aluminum iMac, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro.



By Electronista Staff
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  1. ~bash $

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Feb 2007

    +1

    firewire

    Glad to hear that Firewire isn't dying at the hands of USB, which has always performed less reliably for me -- the bus powered thing is a particular perk of FireWire that I haven't seen implemented well in even "hi-power" USB 2.0 devices.

  1. BelugaShark

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007

    0

    x

    at last! what took so freakn long?

    this Trade Association seems as unreliable as IBM

  1. Eriamjh

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: Oct 2001

    0

    Disappointing...

    FW800 has been a flop. FW1600 never came. FW3200 would be nice. But the crappier USB will probably continue to be the cheapest and slowest transfer technology around.

  1. beez1717

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2007

    +1

    um...

    why haven't they decided to make iPods that use Firewire 800 for faster recharging times and loading times?????

    I liked it when I could use my iPod Mini over Firewire 400: It loaded songs slightly faster than with USB.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    0

    what took so long?

    They were probably waiting for someone to ship FW1600...

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    0

    what took so long?

    They were probably waiting for someone to ship FW1600...

  1. madcran

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2003

    0

    Re: um...

    It is because most PCs out there do not have FireWire 800. Just now I am seeing most come with FW400. I think Apple charges a premium for licensing FW to other manufacturers and Intel doesn't charge much to license USB. It's a classic oversight that just because the overhead is more for FireWire to manufacturers, it is not a smart decision to make FW cards or built in FW ports. Plus iPods now have less profit, and Apple wants to keep as much profit as possible, dropping FW kept the iPods a little more profitable. I'm glad to see that FW3200 is still out there, I read about FW3200 a long time ago.

  1. Glasspusher

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2000

    0

    serial ata?

    Is this as fast as serial ATA? Easier to implement?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: um...

    why haven't they decided to make iPods that use Firewire 800 for faster recharging times and loading times?????

    Because even Apple, the inventor of Firewire, realized they've failed miserably with it, and USB has become superfluous.

    It is because most PCs out there do not have FireWire 800. Just now I am seeing most come with FW400. I think Apple charges a premium for licensing FW to other manufacturers and Intel doesn't charge much to license USB.

    That used to be the case. But, I believe, the price dropped to near nothing later on. But it was too late at that point.

    And you really only see firewire on windows laptops, rarely on the desktop. And most of the time those are the mini-firewire jacks, which, I don't believe, offer power. (Sony's great 'improvement' to the standard - iLink!)

    I'm glad to see that FW3200 is still out there, I read about FW3200 a long time ago.

    Not sure why anyone would get excited or interested about this. It will have no bearing on the Mac. eSATA already exists (at least as add-on cards - oh, right, Apple only sells a couple of computers that you can add on too. Oops!) And if history means anything, Apple probably won't even adopt it, or they'll try to strangle as much money as possible out of its loyal customers (because what else are loyal customers for if not to gouge them?) by offering it only in the MacPro.

    It's like getting excited over the PowerPC G5 mobile processor.

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005

    0

    Oh, come now testy

    Firewire is a great interface. Yes, it's not very widespread in the PC world (although every one of the hundreds of IBM machines where I work has 3 6-pin firewire400 ports) but people still use it. People who are savvy or want something dependable in trasfer devices install it when they can. It's usually the low-end low-brow consumer machines that lack it.

    Musicians, graphic designers, producers, artists, architects, network engineers, sound engineers, photographers... the list goes on of professionals i know that use firewire 400 & 800 on a regular basis. I myself, use 4-5 devices daily and a few more every-so-often that utilize firewire. I've tried them over USB, and it just doesn't keep up with performance.

    AND, all of these people would be thrilled to hear the news that there are even FASTER transfer speeds available. You know with apps like Time Machine, people are going to be wanting external backup drives, and what would be better than a really fast drive? Or how about a really fast drive connected to a really fast wireless router? You could have multiple people backing up to the same drive simultaneously thanks to faster wireless standards and connection speeds. For that matter, think of how people an stream A/V libraries over the network for use with things like Apple TV AT THE SAME TIME.

    Musicians can have faster Audio I/O speeds with firewire control boxes. Video producers can just take their work with them on an external drive and work straight from it thanks to transfer speeds.

    If you want to knock the popularity of this connection type , go ahead. Just don't count it out for how useful it will be for professionals and digital households.

    Now, if only apple would once again have their firmware on new iPods work with firewire, I'd be happy. After 3rd gen, new ipods no longer work with my firewire-to-iPod cable. Sad. For a company known for user-friendly support, it's very odd not to see them support their own standard.

    Perhaps now it will be integrated with the growing popularity of iPod/iPhones, or Macs. for that matter. It'd be a gamble, but I'd say it would be worth it.

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