A high-speed serial bus that was developed by Apple, Texas Instruments and others via the IEEE. Standardized as the IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus (HPSB), FireWire supports 63 devices, real-time data transfer, hot swapping and simultaneous multiple speeds. It is widely used to download video from digital camcorders to the computer and is also used in other A/V applications.|
FireWire 400, 800, 1600 and 3200
Introduced in 2000 with a 6-pin connector, Firewire 400 (IEEE 1394a) provides 100, 200 and 400 Mbits/sec transfer at a distance of 4.5 meters between devices. FireWire 800 (IEEE 1394b) increased transfer rate to 800 Mbits/sec and cable distance to 100 meters in 2003. It also expanded cable options to glass and plastic fiber and Cat 5 Ethernet. Also included in IEEE 1394b, FireWire 1600 and FireWire 3200 increase transfer rates to 1.6 and 3.2 Gbits/sec respectively and are expected in the 2009 time frame.
Early on, Sony eliminated two power lines from the FireWire 400 cable and introduced a small 4-pin FireWire connector, dubbed "i.Link," which is used on many laptops. i.Link cables have the i.Link 4-pin plug on one end and either the 6-pin FireWire 400 plug or the 9-pin FireWire 800 plug on the other.
The 6-pin socket is commonly found on desktop computers for FireWire 400 connections. Sony's smaller 4-pin i.Link socket is also common on laptops, while FireWire 800 uses a 9-pin plug and socket.
The faster FireWire 800 is backward compatible with FireWire 400 devices, but requires a "bilingual" cable that has a 9-pin FireWire 800 plug on one end and a 6-pin FireWire 400 plug on the other.