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What Are the Different Types of FireWire® Devices?

A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.
A FireWire® port.
Many newer devices use faster USB 3.0 connections instead of FireWire docks.
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  • Written By: M. Kayo
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 22 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Peripheral devices that connect to a computer requiring high-speed data transfer rates like camcorders or external memory drives are typically equipped with FireWire® ports. This high-speed FireWire® connection allows users to transfer massive amounts of information in a very short amount of time. FireWire®, also known as IEEE 1394 standard, is a high-performance serial bus used for connecting certain devices to a computer. Many different types of FireWire® devices, such as video cameras, external DVD burners and external hard drives, typically require faster data transfer speeds. Industries that require faster data transfer speeds, like publishing or motion picture production companies are typical users of FireWire® devices.

FireWire® technology is one of the fastest data transfer device interfaces available. Devices utilizing this technology are designed to handle data transfer speeds from 100 to 800 Mbps (megabits per second). This exceptional speed allows large amounts of information to be transferred between devices in a relatively short amount of time. FireWire® devices are typically those that require high data transfer speeds between computers and peripheral devices like cameras, external hard drives, video capture devices, and digital video converters. Other devices that typically have built-in FireWire® connectivity are external CD or DVD burners, media card readers, scanning devices, and printers.

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Most devices, depending upon their individual connection and data transfer speed requirements will have either 400 or 800 Mbps FireWire® data transfer ports built in. Some devices with the 800 Mbps capacity may cost a bit more and can handle higher data transfer speeds up to 800 Mbps while FireWire® devices with 400 Mbps capability handle half that amount. For example, an external hard drive may only require a slower 400 Mbps FireWire® port if the speed of data transfer is not critical. A movie director might use a high-end digital camera equipped with an 800 Mbps connection because faster data transfer will allow more time for other production activities. The latest 1600 and 3200 FireWire® devices reach data transfer rates of 1600 and 3200 Mbps respectively but are also completely backward compatible with both FireWire® 400 and 800 devices.

Many of the devices used by the film, publishing, and entertainment industries require the collection and rapid data transfer rates that this technology provides. For example, in the publishing industry, all of the photos, copy, ads and other digital information that make up a book or a magazine are composed of massive amounts of data. When this data needs to be transferred to another computer or storage device, FireWire® devices are able to process data more quickly than other types of cable or wireless connections. Typically, devices that require large data transfers and connect with a computer will be enabled with FireWire® connectivity.

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