Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Firewire Now Reaches 3.2 Gigabits per Second Speed -- 4X

The 1394 Trade Association announced a new specification to quadruple the speed of FireWire to reach 3.2 gigabits per second. The new electrical specification, known as S3200, builds upon the IEEE 1394b standard, preserving FireWire backwards compatibility and using the same cables and connectors already deployed for FireWire 800 products. The 1394 arbitration, data, and service protocols were not modified for S3200. The specification is expected to be ratified by early February.

FireWire 800 operates without polling, without idle times, and without continuous software management, enabling it to deliver more than 97 percent of its bit rate as payload -- not overhead. FireWire 800 hard drives can move over 90 MB per second. S3200 preserves this efficiency and its expected to deliver payload speeds reaching nearly 400 MB per second.

The 1394 Trade Association said that S3200 makes FireWire so fast that users will see no advantage from eSATA. Both interfaces are much faster than any modern hard drive mechanism, but eSATA does not provide electrical power to operate a drive.

"The S3200 standard will sustain the position of IEEE 1394 as the absolute performance leader in multi-purpose I/O ports for consumer applications in computer and CE devices," said James Snider, executive director, 1394 Trade Association. "There is a very clear migration path from 800 Megabits/second to 3.2 Gigabits/second, with no need for modifications to the standard and no requirement for new cables or connectors."