Friday, March 14, 2008

IEEE1394 - the wire in FIRE...

As per the advice by my friend and technology guru Mr.Surya Prakash Garg, Now I want to share the potential of the high speed datatransfer interface, IEEE1394, popularly known as FireWire. In reality Firewire is the Apple's brandname for the port IEEE1394, for which other names are DV* (by Panasonic) and iLink (by Sony)
(* the DV should not be confused with DV Camcorders) 

fig. 1. various ports

What is IEEE1394
IEEE1394 is a serial bus interface standard, for high-speed communications and isochronous real-time data transfer, generally used in a personal computer as well as digital multimedia devices. The data transfer speeds generally offered by IEEE1394 ports are 100 MBPS, 400 MBPS (1394a) and 800MBPS (1394b).

FireWire has replaced Parallel SCSI in many applications, due to lower implementation costs and a simplified, more adaptable cabling system. IEEE 1394 has been adopted as the High Definition Audio-Video Network Alliance (HANA) standard connection interface for A/V (audio/visual) component communication and control. FireWire is also available in wireless, fiber optic, and coaxial versions using the isochronous protocols.

The developement of this interface is mainly initiated by Apple Inc. and and developed by the IEEE P1394 Working Group, largely driven by contributions from Apple, Texas Instruments, Sony, Digital Equipment Corporation, IBM, and INMOS/SGS Thomson. Apple intended FireWire to be a serial replacement for the parallel SCSI (Small Computer System
Interface) bus while also providing connectivity for digital audio and video equipment.

There are two major types of IEEE1394 ports, names four-pin and six-pin ports

fig. 2. - Six pin Firewire

This is the original design developed by the Apple, where two pins are intended to 
provide power to the device and other four pins are means of communication in between desired device and computer.

fig. 3. Four pin Firewire

this is Sony's implementation of the system is known as "i.LINK", and uses only the four signal pins, omitting the two pins which provide power to the device in favor of a separate power connector on Sony's i.LINK products. The ports are sometimes labeled "S100" or "S400" to indicated speed in Mbps.

Technical specifications
FireWire can connect up to 63 peripherals in a tree topology (as opposed to Parallel SCSI's Electrical bus topology). It allows peer-to-peer device communication — such as communication between a scanner and a printer — to take place without using system memory or the CPU. FireWire also supports multiple hosts per bus. It is designed to support Plug-and-play and hot swapping. Its six-wire cable is more flexible than most Parallel SCSI cables and can supply up to 45 watts of power per port at up to 30 volts, allowing moderate-consumption devices to operate without a separate power supply. (As noted earlier, the Sony-branded i.LINK usually omits the power wiring of the cables and uses a 4-pin connector. Devices have to get their power by other means.) FireWire devices implement the ISO/IEC 13213 "configuration ROM" model for device configuration and identification, to provide plug-and-play capability. All FireWire devices are identified by an IEEE EUI-64 unique identifier (an extension of the 48-bit Ethernet MAC address format) in addition to wellknown codes indicating the type of device and the protocols it supports.

fig. 4. Firewire connectors

Operating System Support
Windows XP
Windows XP provides support for Internet Protocol (IP) networking over the IEEE 1394 bus. The interface is listed in the Network Connections folder as "1394 Connection". Internet Protocol (IP) over Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) 1394 does not require a network adapter, but can be connected only to other 1394 interfaces; you cannot directly connect a 1394 cable to an Ethernet hub. Windows XP requires an OHCI IEEE 1394 interface to enable IP over 1394. When the 1394 interface is installed, Windows XP creates a 1394 Connection in the Network Connections folder. You can modify Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) configuration settings by using the properties for this connection. To create a network by using IP over 1394 support, connect two Windows XP computers with IEEE 1394 ports together with a 1394 cable. While this connection is present, Ipconfig.exe displays the interface as 1394connection. refer - microsoft site  and for details

If you have 1394 hardware you can access it under Linux. The supported chipsets are Texas Instruments PCILynx/PCILynx2 and OHCI compliant chips (produced by various companies). Not supported are a proprietary Sony chipset found in older Vaio systems or the Adaptec AIC-5800. Fortunately for endusers, only OHCI compliant controllers are presently used by manufacturers of FireWire cards and mainboards. for more information visit -


FireWire enables the very high-speed 
data transfer making it suitable for extensive uses like High Defition Audio Video transfer 
A single 1394 port can be used to connect up 63 external devices. In addition to its high speed, 1394 also supports isochronous data -- delivering data at a guaranteed rate. This makes it ideal for devices that need to transfer high levels of data in real-time, such as video devices. Although extremely fast and flexible, 1394 is also expensive. Like USB, 1394 supports both Plug-and-Play and hot plugging, and also provides power to peripheral devices.



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