FireWire spec quadrupled to 3.2 Gbps

The 1394 Trade Association has announced S3200, a new specification for the venerable FireWire data transfer interface that effectively quadruples its speed, to 3.2 gigabits per second (Gbps).

The S3200 standard, expected to be ratified in February, 2008, builds on the existing IEEE 1394b protocol. That's known to Mac users as FireWire 800. It uses the same kind of cables and connectors as FireWire 800 products, and uses the same 1394 arbitration, data and service protocols. The combination makes the trade association hopeful that it will lead to a fast uptake from FireWire vendors.

S3200 continues to allow FireWire peripherals to draw electrical power from the interface, and the 1394 Trade Association notes that S3200-based peripherals can draw more power from the interface than other competing standards. And S3200 is downwardly-compatible with FireWire products, just as FireWire 800 works with FireWire 400 devices as well.

With S3200, the 1394 Trade Association is hoping to stall the momentum of external Serial ATA (eSATA), another data transfer interface that's seeing increased adoption among video professionals, in enterprise RAID systems, and elsewhere where large data transfer bandwidth is necessary. S3200 makes FireWire fast enough that "users will see no advantage from eSATA," according to a statement from the organization, with the added benefits of bus power and the ability to connect more devices.

The 1394 Trade Association comprises more than 130 member companies including Apple, Sony, Microsoft and Canon. It exists to support the development and utilization of FireWire interfaces for computers, consumer peripherals and other electronic systems.

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