So you thought Fireware was dying off? Au contraire, mon frère ... turbo-charged FireWire 1600 and 3200 specs will deliver eSATA speeds.
The race for a faster next-gen interconnect just got a tough new contender. The IEEE has signed off on a new version of IEEE 1394, better known by Apple’s snazzier ‘FireWire’ marketing moniker, which will support speeds up to 1600Mbit/s and 3200Mbit/s.
Due to appear in hardware by year’s end, the new modes are officially dubbed S1600 and S3200 – although it’s expected Apple will adopt the FireWire 1600 and FireWire 3200 brands, in the same way as it currently differentiates the faster FireWire 800 (based on IEEE-1394b) from the original standard (which Apple then rebadged as FireWire 400).
The fuel-injected spec is backward compatible with FireWire 800 products and employs the same 9 pin connector and cabling compared to the more common 6 pin FireWire 400 plug, although it will still talk to FireWire 400 through the use of a ‘bilingual’ cable.
As the originator and driving force behind FireWire, Apple will most likely introduce the new spec to its high-end desktops and notebooks in any 2008 refresh, or perhaps even the rumoured September redesign of the MacBook Pro (and MacBook) to bring both laptops in line with the style of the MacBook Air.
The speed bump puts Firewire on a par with the performance of eSATA, which provides an external plug-and-play interface for SATA 3.0 Gbit/s, although it will lag behind the forthcoming USB 3.0 (aka ‘Super Speed USB
’) spec which is aiming for 4.8 Gbit/s. However, the IEEE already has plans to further accelerate FireWire to 6.4 Gbit/s.