A few years ago Firewire (also known as i.Link and IEEE 1394) was the only game in town when it came to high speed cable transfers on consumer devices. Then along came USB 2 which in some respects was faster and it became arguably more widespread too. But Firewire isn’t dead yet – the IEEE has just announced a revised specification that will continue to keep it a relevant technology.
The 1394-2008 standard updates and revises all prior 1394 standards,
including 1394a, 1394b,
1394c, enhanced UTP, and the 1394 beta plus
PHY-Link interface. It also incorporates the complete specifications for
S1600 (1.6 Gigabit/second bandwidth) and for S3200, which provides 3.2
3.2 Gigabit/second is pretty sweet and totally blows the 480 megabit/second for USB 2 out of the water. Then again USB 3 is on its way soon too and advocates of that interconnect are claiming that it could deliver 4.8 Gigabit/second of connectivity.
Personally I’ve found Firewire connections to be better for latency sensitive data transfer (like live video streaming) than USB 2 overall. It will be interesting to see how the next generation of USB vs. IEEE1394/Firewire shakes out over the coming year.