Apple’s Developer Connection (ADC) Web site is now offering an
IP over FireWire Preview Release
— technology that enables Macs and other devices to communicate using TCP/IP through FireWire instead of Ethernet or other common networking media.
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FireWire offers distinct advantages over Ethernet networking because of its incredibly high speed — up to 400mb/second, compared to 10 or 100mb/second for most networks. Newer Power Macs and PowerBooks sport Gigabit Ethernet connections, however, which ups the speed to 1000mb/sec. As a result, said Apple, IP over FireWire makes Macs suitable for networking and clustering solutions.
In fact, FireWire-based Storage Area Network (SAN) solutions are not a new idea — several third-party manufacturers produce such systems. This is the first time that Apple has publicly released software to help TCP/IP-based Macs and other devices to communicate with each other over FireWire. TCP/IP is the lingua franca of the Internet, and using this software, Macs can communicate with other Macs and other devices that support IP over FireWire, through commonly used protocols like AFP, HTTP, FTP and SSH. This also enables Rendezvous — Apple’s zero-configuration networking technology — to work as well, according to the information on Apple’s Web site.
IP over FireWire Preview Release adds a new Kernel Extension to Mac OS X that supports the existing network services architecture. Once the software is installed, you should be able to add FireWire as your IP network node in the Network Preferences Pane. If you have two FireWire Macs nearby, you can then use IP over FireWire to exchange data with each other — you can also use this technology to connect two Macs to the Internet through Internet Sharing as well, according to the documentation.
System requirements call for Mac OS X 10.2.2 and a Mac with built-in FireWire.
Please bear in mind that although this is a publicly available download, this ADC preview release is being offered as beta software — users are encouraged to back up their important data before installing and using the software.