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Understanding Firewire


1. What is IEEE 1394?
IEEE 1394 is also known as FireWire or I. LINK and was developed by Apple computer. It is a high speed interface allowing devices which require fast transmission speeds, such as videos, to connect to the PC. The IEEE 1394 connector is smaller than a USB plug. IEEE-1394 is fully plug and play (PnP) and a number of devices can be connected at the same time.

2. What is the maximum cable length between devices and overall?

Simple answer: 4.5m and 72m. Complex answer: there are three defined data rates being 98.304, 196.608 and 393.216Mbits/sec called S100, S200 and S400 (S800 and S1200 in planning). Only S100 & S200 is currently available and if you limit maximum speed to S200 then internode length can go up to 14m. However, if the device(s) connected draw power then the total volts dropped in this distance could be a limiting factor.

3. What is the maximum number of devices you can have on one daisy chain?
Simple answer: 63. Complex answer: 63 in one subnet; 1.023 subnets can be connected to give over 64k devices! Any device can send and receive data to any other connected device.

4. Does the last device need any kind of termination or is that automatic?

No, all devices in a Firewire chain are automatic and hot pluggable.

5. What is the maximum speed of FireWire?


6. Are there any audio devices using FireWire?

Not generally available; loudspeakers & DVD likely to happen first.

7. What other devices have or will have FireWire?

Camcorders, cable, satellite, direct to home video and HDTV set top boxes, home theatre, home networks, video games, MiniDisc keyboard/synthesizers/MIDI, DAT, professional video equipment PC disks, PC networking, printers, scanners ...

8. Can you mix device types on the same chain?

Yes, you can mix devices in a single chain.

9. What is the difference between 4 wire and 6 wire firewire connectors?

Four (4)-wire = two lots of individually shielded twisted pairs crossed over (like a null modem cable). 6-wire is the same plus two more for DC power.



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