Firewire® (IEEE 1394) and USB (Universal Serial Bus) are two separate high-speed bus technologies that allow multiple devices to be connected to a computer. The two technologies are not integrated, meaning it is not possible to connect a USB device to a Firewire® port directly. A Firewire® to USB adapter cable for transferring digital video (DV) is available from at least one manufacturer, but it can be expensive and difficult to find.
Even if you don't have a Firewire® to USB adapter cable, it doesn't mean that your Firewire® devices are useless if you have a USB port, or vice versa. Several companies do provide dual hubs. This type of device has two ports in a single hub, which may be either external or internal; one port is used Firewire® and one for USB, allowing either type of device to function. The combination hub is actually two separate ports combined into a single form factor for convenience; there is no conversion between Firewire® and USB taking place when you use one of these hubs.
Another alternative is simply to add two separate cards, assuming your computer has enough available slots. Firewire® and USB cards are both coming down in price, and adding whichever one is missing should not represent a major expense.
Both Firewire® and USB are efficient, high-speed bus standards. A Firewire® hub can support a data transfer rate of up to either 400Mbps or 800Mbps, depending on the standard, and a single Firewire® port can connect up to 63 devices and deliver a guaranteed rate of speed to each one. Firewire® is often used for devices that require real-time operation such as audio and video systems because of this guarantee, and it is also used frequently in storage area networks.
USB can connect more devices (up to 127), but supports data transfer rates of only up to 12Mbps. It is more often used for standard peripherals, such as mice, modems, and keyboards. The USB 2.0 standard supports speeds of up to 480Mbps, which makes it more competitive with Firewire®. On 17 November 2008, USB 3.0 specifications were released, with a transfer rate 10 times that of USB 2.0; consumer devices that use this standard were expected to be available by 2010.
If you cannot purchase a Firewire® to USB adapter, using a hub allows you to use devices that are compatible with either technology. Both technologies support Plug-and-Play and hot-plugging (hot-swappable).