What is FireWire

You are probably more than familiar with USB cables as they are in use throughout the tech world. Less common, but equally effective, is the FireWire. A FireWire is a cable used a method of high-speed communication between two separate computers or between a computer and a peripheral. In technology, a peripheral is an external device that provides input or output for the computer to which it is connected. FireWire is also used in transferring information between digital devices such as audio and video equipment. This blog will provide further information on what FireWire cables are, how they work, where they differ from normal USB cables, and how to decide which cabling device is more effective for you.

 FireWire was initially developed by Apple for standard use on their line of Mac computers. Also known as IEEE 1394 High Performance Serial Bus, it is primarily used to connect peripherals to a computer. A very common use for FireWire is to connect external hard drives and digital camcorders, especially those with a high transfer rates. A FireWire can also connect to a hub up to 100 meters away and is backwards compatible with older models. The FireWire was developed with the following goals in mind:     

  • Fast transmission of data
  • Ability to put lots of devices on a single bus
  • Simplicity of use
  • Hot-plug capability
  • Low cabling cost
  • Low implementation cost

Fast transmission of data has been achieved - the current model operates at speeds of up to 800 MB per second, and that number is expected to rise to a staggering 3.2 GB per second. The goal of handling many devices on a single bus has also been accomplished, with FireWire buses able to connect with up to 63 devices. Their hot-plug capability allows users to connect and disconnect the cable at any time, even when the device is powered on. The FireWire uses a process called enumeration to queue and assign an address to each of the devices connected to the bus.

While USB and FireWire connectors are similar in appearance and function, there are a few distinct differences, providing both benefits and drawbacks. Firstly, the FireWire is used on devices with greater quantities of data. An example of these devices would be digital camcorders or Blu-Ray players. The second difference is that FireWire provides much faster connection speeds and can transfer power to a device via the same cable that is transferring data. For certain devices like a mouse or printer, the FireWire’s speed does not play a factor. A third difference is that the USB is host-based while the FireWire is peer to peer. The host-based USB needs to be connected to a computer in order to communicate, while the peer to peer FireWire can communicate with other FireWire devices without first going through a computer. The fourth difference is that, unfortunately, a FireWire generally costs more to use than a USB.

Cogent Purchasing is the ultimate source for all FireWire connector part types, USB connector part types, and much more. Our inventory of over 6 billion new and obsolete parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries is second to none. Owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, Cogent Purchasing can help you find all the electrical connector part types from the highest quality manufacturers. As the only independent distributor with a No China Sourcing Policy, we can guarantee that each part we sell will come from a legitimate manufacturer. We’re always available and ready to help you find all the parts and equipment you need, 24/7-365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@cogentpurchasing.com or call us at +1-714-705-4780.


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