The folks at Orange Micro say they’re starting worldwide shipment of their OrangeLink+ USB 2.0/FireWire Combo PCI Board. And the Mac OS X driver for the product is finished.
USB 2.0 is the next generation of the Universal Serial Bus that’s used to attach peripherals to computers. USB 2.0 purportedly transfers data at 480 Mbits/sec.
In February of 1999, Intel announced that they were creating a consortium of companies to bring USB to faster speeds, and allow it to compete with FireWire. This USB 2.0 spec, is supposed to allow USB to utilize the full range of devices including cameras, drives and other things that USB was never intended to work with. This is quite a shift from the original goal of USB, which was to provide connectivity for low to medium speed devices.
USB 2.0 is also viewed by many as a competitor to FireWire, the high-speed connectivity technology developed by Apple. While our favorite computing company hasn’t announced its intentions (if any) for USB 2.0, the most likely scenario is that USB 2.0 and FireWire will co-exist. Even if Apple doesn’t implement the next generation of USB, other companies, such as Keyspan and Orange Micro, are working on such solutions.
And even with USB 2.0’s speed increase, FireWire still has the advantage in many areas. It can transfer data point-to-point (one device to another) while USB requires the computer to server as a go-between. And the next generation of FireWire is expected to hit speeds of 800Mbps and higher.
Whatever your preference, the OrangeLink+ USB 2.0/FireWire Combo PCI Board has four USB 2.0 ports and three FireWire ports. The USB 2.0 ports will work simultaneously with the one or two USB 1.1 ports that come standard on most PCs, giving users a total of five or six USB ports. Also, the OrangeLink+ is “backward compatible” with all USB 1.1 devices, meaning it can simultaneously support USB 1.1 and USB 2.0 peripherals at full rated speeds.
The OrangeLink+ USB 2.0/FireWire Combo PCI Board also includes software to let users edit their clips, and create movies, e-mail video, or offer live video on their Web sites. As for drivers for the card, Orange has recently completed its Mac OS X driver for USB 2.0 (there’s no support for the traditional Mac operating system). The OrangeLink+ USB 2.0/ FireWire Combo PCI Board has a list price of US$129.