Firewire 4: What's it good for?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
The new spec that moves Firewire to its fourth major incarnation (past 400, 800, 1600 to 3200Mbps) has been announced.



Given that availability is expected in October (and dovetails nicely with the upcoming Nehalem refresh) I'm wondering about what this new speed is actually good for, in terms of new capabilities.



Sure a lot of existed devices will be faster (once they're upgraded to the new spec, of course.)

New 10+ megapixel cameras will finally be usable, certain hard drives will be faster, etc.



FireWire 400 brought digital filmmaking on the Mac to the masses.



What new capabilities does this speed bring that we didn't have before, especially for the Pro market?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    wmfwmf Posts: 1,164member
    Nobody used FW 1600, so why would they care about 3200?
  • Reply 2 of 54
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wmf View Post


    Nobody used FW 1600, so why would they care about 3200?



    umm. no one HAS firewire 1600 yet. Both 1600 and 3200 were just announced last year.
  • Reply 3 of 54
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    I'm presuming that 1600 will now be abandoned for 3200. I can't see why they would co-exist.
  • Reply 4 of 54
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    The more I think about it, I think the Firewire 400 connector will be dropped from the Mac completely.



    Adapters are now cheap and readily available, and I think Jobs will want to promote the new standard and cement FW 800/3200 ports on the PC side as well. That can only happen if one connector is ubiquitous.
  • Reply 5 of 54
    zinfellazinfella Posts: 876member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    The more I think about it, I think the Firewire 400 connector will be dropped from the Mac completely.



    Adapters are now cheap and readily available, and I think Jobs will want to promote the new standard and cement FW 800/3200 ports on the PC side as well. That can only happen if one connector is ubiquitous.



    I don't care what adapter you use, when you connect to a FW 400 port, the resulting speed will still be FW 400 speed! The ONLY advantage of an adapter is to CONNECT FW 800 device to a FW 400 port. Some machines do not have a FW 800 port, hence the need for an adapter to ALLOW the connection of a FW 800 device. Other than that, there is no sane reason to use an adapter if you have a functioning FW 800 port.



    As to your comment about 10 MP cameras now being usable because of FW 3200, it is incredibly ignorant. Get clue!
  • Reply 6 of 54
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zinfella View Post


    I don't care what adapter you use, when you connect to a FW 400 port, the resulting speed will still be FW 400 speed! The ONLY advantage of an adapter is to CONNECT FW 800 device to a FW 400 port. Some machines do not have a FW 800 port, hence the need for an adapter to ALLOW the connection of a FW 800 device. Other than that, there is no sane reason to use an adapter if you have a functioning FW 800 port.



    I think you have it backwards. The adapter allows you to use FW400 devices on a FW800 port (obviously, at the lower speed.) The advantage is that Apple can now drop the 400 port entirely, reducing costs and promoting the use of the higher speeds with backward compatibility.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zinfella View Post


    As to your comment about 10 MP cameras now being usable because of FW 3200, it is incredibly ignorant. Get clue!



    By "usable" I meant that downloading a camera full of ultra high res photos would be closer to instantaneous, rather than the "go grab a coffee" time it can currently take using USB 2.0.
  • Reply 7 of 54
    zinfellazinfella Posts: 876member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    I think you have it backwards. The adapter allows you to use FW400 devices on a FW800 port (obviously, at the lower speed.) The advantage is that Apple can now drop the 400 port entirely, reducing costs and promoting the use of the higher speeds with backward compatibility.







    By "usable" I meant that downloading a camera full of ultra high res photos would be closer to instantaneous, rather than the "go grab a coffee" time it can currently take using USB 2.0.



    Well, I use SanDisk Extreme IV CF cards, and an Extreme IV reader, so I don't need to go grab a cup of coffee to download images from my 10 MP camera. Yes 1600, or 3200 would be faster, but 800 is not exactly crawling, if you have the right cards and readers.
  • Reply 8 of 54
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zinfella View Post


    Well, I use SanDisk Extreme IV CF cards, and an Extreme IV reader, so I don't need to go grab a cup of coffee to download images from my 10 MP camera. Yes 1600, or 3200 would be faster, but 800 is not exactly crawling, if you have the right cards and readers.



    Point taken.





    It's almost too bad that the Drobo was just revved to include Firewire 800.

    Isn't this exactly the kind of device that could make good use of the FW3200 speeds?
  • Reply 9 of 54
    outsideroutsider Posts: 6,008member
    FW 3200 would make perfect replacement for eSATA. eSATA is limited to one device per port and can't be daisy chained. Firewire supports 63 devices on the chain. Plus there is a 2 meter cable length limit where as FW has a 72 meter limit (this may be different for S3200, 100m if you use optical connections).
  • Reply 10 of 54
    trobertstroberts Posts: 701member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zinfella View Post


    I don't care what adapter you use, when you connect to a FW 400 port, the resulting speed will still be FW 400 speed! The ONLY advantage of an adapter is to CONNECT FW 800 device to a FW 400 port. Some machines do not have a FW 800 port, hence the need for an adapter to ALLOW the connection of a FW 800 device. Other than that, there is no sane reason to use an adapter if you have a functioning FW 800 port.



    There is if you have a FireWire 400 device. I have an external hard drive that has interfaces for FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 so if Apple replaces FireWire 400 with FireWire 800 then I will need to get an adapter.
  • Reply 11 of 54
    zinfellazinfella Posts: 876member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by troberts View Post


    There is if you have a FireWire 400 device. I have an external hard drive that has interfaces for FireWire 400 and USB 2.0 so if Apple replaces FireWire 400 with FireWire 800 then I will need to get an adapter.



    That's your choice. I had an external HD enclosure w/FW400 & USB 2, but when I got a machine with a FW 800 port, I bought a new external case with FW 800 & USB 2. I'd rather have the extra speed than use an adapter, YMMV.
  • Reply 12 of 54
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zinfella View Post


    Well, I use SanDisk Extreme IV CF cards, and an Extreme IV reader, so I don't need to go grab a cup of coffee to download images from my 10 MP camera. Yes 1600, or 3200 would be faster, but 800 is not exactly crawling, if you have the right cards and readers.



    In other words, you read his first comment incorrectly but moved passed it instead of professionally admitting you had it back asswards?



    Classic.
  • Reply 13 of 54
    zinfellazinfella Posts: 876member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    In other words, you read his first comment incorrectly but moved passed it instead of professionally admitting you had it back asswards?



    Classic.



    Apparently, but, i've since went back and read the link, and yes, I got it wrong. Does that make you feel better now?
  • Reply 14 of 54
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,786member
    Okay, Firewire 3200 brings speed of up to 3.2Gbps. But now SATA 3 will bring speeds of up to 6Gbps.



    This whole USB vs FW vs SATA race is getting mighty confusing.
  • Reply 15 of 54
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,756member
    I was reading the post at the start of this thread and was reminded of Firewire other lives. In part that was due to mention of the 10 MP camera.



    See the old Firewire is common in the machine vision industry as a popular lower speed connector. A much faster Firewire might extend it's use into the range of high performance cameras. FireWire has also been used in the automation sector which of course is allied with machine vision. To go a bit farther out Firewire is used extensive in one of the jet fighter programs. Forgot which one so you will have to look that up.



    In any event I'm still not sure if Firewire is fast enough. The question that comes to mind is how fast is an HDTV camcorder running 1080P or maybe I should say what is the data rate.



    What I'm trying to get at here is that there are more applications for Firewire than meets the eye. As always a faster data rate is welcome (in most cases). So I see the traditional uses staying with us. Especially considering Firewires positive history there. The thing to be aware of is the non traditional uses that where highlighted above. If Firewire keeps it's reliability and speed I can see even more adoption. That of course is talking about a wider range of industries, in the PC world it is up to Apple.



    Now that is a big concern as Apple hasn't seemed to take a lot of interest in Firewire lately. That could be simply a matter of waiting for the slow standards process and for silicon to catch up. Frankly Firewire is on example of Apple at it's best developing innovative hardware, I do hope that support and adoption is on going. The remaining question is how soon can TI get the hardware out the door.



    Dave
  • Reply 16 of 54
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,756member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    Okay, Firewire 3200 brings speed of up to 3.2Gbps. But now SATA 3 will bring speeds of up to 6Gbps.



    This whole USB vs FW vs SATA race is getting mighty confusing.



    Not confusing at all just weed out the chafe and look at the products and their weaknesses. So:



    ESATA should be thought of as no more than an extended disk interface. It does not have anywhere near the flexibility of either Firewire nor USB.



    USB has always been an interesting offering but frankly is oriented to slower hardware. The 480 version tried to deal with that. One big problem with USB is it's poor implementation on Macs.



    Firewire on the other hand came out of the gate faster and with a better design. Fast is good of course but so is adoption, Firewire simply has had issues with adoption on the PC side. Unfortunately this hits Firewire hard due to differences in volume.



    If you look closely you will find that the only two things Firewire and USB have in common is that they communicate serially and that Apple uses both interfaces. Electrically and software wise they are two different beasts. They do compete with each other but there is enough variance between the two that both should survive for a while.



    Dave
  • Reply 17 of 54
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,242member
    Can we all just dispense with the Theoretical Numbers? They don't match up with their actual results.
  • Reply 18 of 54
    @homenow@homenow Posts: 998member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post


    ...Firewire on the other hand came out of the gate faster and with a better design. Fast is good of course but so is adoption, Firewire simply has had issues with adoption on the PC side. Unfortunately this hits Firewire hard due to differences in volume...



    I wouldn't say that one was a better design than the other. USB was great for what it was intended for, and about every non-wireless keyboard and mouse are USB and will continue to be. It has been extended (USB 2.0) to be competitive with FireWire 400 but other than speed does not have flexibility of FireWire, it was very strong and capable component link (audio and video) when it first came out and as far as I know USB 2 still cannot compete with it. I can hook up a 450mhz G4 to my 46" TV via FireWire and record directly to disk with with minimal set-up or play from the computer to the TV over 1 cable. As far as I know you cannot do that with USB because it does not have the two way communication and control that FW does in the standard.



    Apple could have pushed FireWire more than they did and not charged licensing fees to use the name, which is why Sony has FireWire by another name, but even it it was the household standard you would not see keyboards and mice using FW and probably most consumer printers would still be USB as well.



    The problem with FW 800 as I see it is there really is not a pressing need in the consumer market for the extra speed, especially at the extra expense.
  • Reply 19 of 54
    The problem with Firewire is that probably fewer than 5% of computer users will ever touch a FW device, while 100% use USB. And once the last computers with IDE die off over the next few years, 100% will use SATA.
  • Reply 20 of 54
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Frank777 View Post


    Firewire 4: What's it good for?



    That's a good question. Just about everything these days is USB 2. Even Apple dropped FW from the iPod! Never understood that one. I can see less manufacturing costs, but at the same time Apple abandoned it's own technology and promoted further adoption of USB 2 thereby decreasing demand for FW.
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