Out, Out, Brief FireWire?
FireWire, or IEEE 1394, had the speed crown until eSATA came out. But, now that eSATA devices are cheaper and easier to find (than 1394a or FireWire 400, let alone 1394b (800)), it is loosing relevance quickly in external storage circles. This is despite some advantages that no one ever used.
FireWire could deliver enough power for a full sized (3.5") drive, but manufacturers didn’t take advantage of this. There is a specification (IEEE 1394c) that allows for Ethernet LAN ports and cables to be used to also send and receive FireWire data. This would increase the flexibility of motherboards including such a port substantially. It would be an even bigger plus on laptops, where space for ports is at a premium. But manufacturers didn’t jump on those chances either.
FireWire S1600, which doubles 800’s speed, is being almost completely ignored by the industry. The S3200 spec, which should have come out last year, is unavailable at time of writing (Jan 31). Even when it does come out, it is still slower than the next generation USB and SATA connectors will be. A situation where FireWire is still a good connection for external storage is hard to visualize.
Some of its features, like peer-to-peer communication and 100 meter long cable runs, do however, keep it in the game for connecting monitors and other audio and video devices. The next article looks at FireWire in this context, along with HDMI and DisplayPort.