Ding! Firewire S3200 vs. USB 3.0

The IEEE 1394 Trade Association has announced a new FireWire specification that the group claims is capable of delivering up to 3.2Gb per second of throughput. The new interface (officially known as S3200) is directly based upon the 1394b/FireWire 800 standard and uses the same physical connectors, arbitration, and protocols as its predecessor. In theory, this should allow vendors to roll out S3200-capable silicon in a very short amount of time.

(As a clarifying point, please note that while 1394a and 1394b are largely considered synonymous with FireWire 400 and FireWire 800, the terms 1394c and S3200 refer to two different specifications. S3200 is an extension and acceleration of current 1394b technology, while 1394c offers 1394b speed and capability over standard Cat 5e cable. To date, no implementations of 1394c have been seen in the wild.)

There’s no word on when S3200 devices might hit the market, but the 1394 Trade Association expects the standard to be fully ratified by early February. That’s well ahead of USB 3.0, the closest competition to the spec. At IDF this year, Intel’s Pat Gelsinger forecast USB 3.0 ratification sometime within the first half of 2008. S3200 could conceivably hit the market faster depending on its ease of implementation, but whether or not earlier device availability will translate into improved consumer uptake is open for debate. (link)

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