FireWire Groups Converge

The various groups working on the interconnect technology commonly
known as FireWire are joining forces to help speed up adoption.

The Dallas-based 1394 Trade Association said it will merge with the
1394Automation Group (its European counterpart) by the end of the year.
The combined effort is expected to continue work on standards
development, as well as marketing and application development.

A very fast external bus standard, IEEE 1934 supports data transfer
rates of up to 400Mbps (in 1394a) and 800Mbps (in 1394b). Products
supporting the 1394 standard fall under different names depending on the
company. Apple Computer , which originally developed
the technology, uses the trademarked name FireWire. Other companies use
other names, such as i.Link by Sony and Lynx, to
describe their 1394 products.

“Joining forces in one structure establishes one global standard for
industrial automation applications and allows the two groups to work as
closely as possible to advance 1394 in a new generation of systems used
for product development, manufacturing, and distribution,” Gerwin Gewkes
of Maxon Motor, a spokesman for the 1394Automation Group, said in a
statement. “We have made significant progress in the industrial market
and are pleased to be combining our growing resources.”

FireWire is capable of transferring over long connection distances,
peer-to-peer architecture, robust connectivity and low latency.

For example, a single 1394 port can be used to connect up to 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, robotics, motion control and other industrial automation
systems. The standard has also been designed into products such as wafer
inspection systems and high dynamic lathes, in addition to robots and
cameras for industrial inspection.

In addition to being 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.

But by merging the two groups, James Snider, executive
director of the 1394 Trade Association, said he hopes to change that by
fostering, “a strong presence in the use of FireWire in highly
innovative systems for the factory floor and production.”

Founded in 2002, the 1394Automation group is comprised of European
companies, including Basler Vision Technologies, Maxon Motor,
Nyquist, Lust and TNO.

The 1394 Trade Association is now in its 10th year and includes more
than 80 members from companies, such as Intel, Sony, JVC and Compaq.

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