IEEE 1394a/b (a.k.a. FireWire, I-Link)

Developed by Apple and produced since 1994, it is a standard for a peer-to-peer serial digital interface which can operate at 400 to 3200 Mb/s (1394b) typically over shielded twisted pair cable up to 4.5m, and 100m on optical fiber.

Practically it can send A/V media over 100m of Cat-5 cable at 100 Mb/s. Consumers connect DV devices over longer distances using readily available low cost cables. IEEE 1394c has a data rate to 800 Mb/s over Cat5 cable and combines 1394 and GigE on one cable.

The high speed and low cost of IEEE 1394a makes it popular in multimedia and digital video applications. Uses include peer-to-peer connections for digital dub editing between camcorders, as well as interfacing video recorders, printers, PCs, TVs and digital cameras.

IEEE 1394 is recognized by SMPTE and EBU as a networking technology for transport of packetized video and audio. Its isochronous data channel can provide guaranteed bandwidth for frame-accurate realtime (and faster) transfers of video and audio while its asynchronous mode can carry metadata and support I/P. Both modes may be run simultaneously.

IEEE 1394 is known as FireWire by Apple, I-Link by Sony and Lynx by Texas Instruments. Future developments of FireWire are expected to increase data speed to 6.4 Gb/s.

See also: Asynchronous, Isochronous

Website: www.1394ta.org