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Firewire burns brighter

IEEE approves new standard for faster Firewire connectivity.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has approved a newer, faster Firewire specification.

The specification, officially named IEEE 1394-2008, is capable of a maximum data bandwidth of 3.2 Gbps. This connection interface is expected to compete with the forthcoming USB 3.0 connection technology, which is expected to offer a data bandwidth rate of 4.8 Gbps. USB 3.0 is expected to launch in 2010.

IEEE 1394-2008 is designed for full backward compatibility with the older Firewire 400 (also known as IEEE 1394a-2000) and 800 (also called IEEE 1394b-2002) interfaces. Firewire 400 offers data bandwidth of up to 400 Mbps whereas Firewire 800 is capable of 800 Mbps.

Firewire is a connection interface used by PCs and audio/visual devices. The interface can connect up to 63 peripherals in a tree topology and is both plug-play and hot-swap ready. The former is a feature that allows new devices to function without requiring the user to manually install drivers, whilst the latter makes it possible for users to connect and disconnect peripherals without requiring a reboot or the system to be powered down first.

Devices featuring the new 1394-2008 interface are expected to arrive on the market in the fourth quarter of 2008.