November 12, 2008

FireWire’s Strong Presence in Notebook PCs, Storage, Instrumentation Applications Points to Solid Future Growth, 1394 Trade Association Reports

Growth in the PC notebook, storage, peripherals, and industrial market sectors continues to propel the IEEE 1394 (FireWire) standard to another strong year of growth.

New notebook PCs from global leaders such as Acer, Dell, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard, Toshiba, Sony and others incorporate FireWire -- and the 800 Megabit/second version (S800) is now a virtual standard in storage systems from leading manufacturers. The number of 1394-equipped notebook PCs has increased by approximately 20 percent in 2008. Among the PCs recommended to users by Consumer Reports in its December 2008 edition, 75 percent featured FireWire, including brands from Sony, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and Hewlett Packard. (For the Consumer Reports article visit: computer/computers/overview/computers-ov.htm) In addition, Microsoft will support the new 800 Megabit/second version of FireWire in upcoming Windows Version 7 releases next year.

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MacBook Pro Users Insist on FireWire

The popularity of FireWire has been registered enthusiastically in the weeks following the decision to remove it from a couple members of the MacBook Pro family of PCs introduced in October. A petition requesting its reinstatement has drawn signatures from users worldwide. Comments from users about the decision have been collected and appear in a list of weblogs and postings with links to articles and quotes. The comments are on the 1394 Trade Association website at

"The overwhelming support for FireWire is proof of the strength of the technology and the value users place on it," said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. "The feedback also points to the value that applications realize as users and designers continue to adopt the more powerful FireWire800 standard." Snider added, "There is every indication that Apple executives are paying attention to the FireWire discussion and want to address users' concerns."

FireWire Expands its Role in HDV Camera Applications

Virtually all HDV cameras continue to rely on FireWire for transfers, including some models that have become very popular with independent producers. The installed base of FireWire camcorders is still enormous, including many high-definition applications.

Also, most pro and semi-pro cameras continue to use FireWire, because HDV remains preferred over AVCHD. And many professionals also select MacBooks and use them for on-the-road capture. "FireWire also remains the preferred interface for multichannel audio."

Among other key market sectors, the number of 1394-equipped set top boxes shipped worldwide is up more than 25 percent in 2008. PC peripherals that incorporate FireWire are growing between 17 to 20 percent.

1394 Now Emerging in the Industrial and Automotive Sectors

New markets for 1394 also are now emerging. The 1394-Automotive standard has been developed as a major specification for vehicle entertainment, navigation and other automotive applications, and the first 1394-equipped vehicle networks will begin contributing to applications growth in 2009. Also, the completion of the new UWB over Coax specification has added a powerful and efficient new standard for whole home networking.

"1394 has continued its strong growth across a broad range of applications and market sectors in 2008," said Snider. "FireWire delivers the best speed and performance of any standard for a wide range of applications, as evidenced by stable and steady increases in 1394's adoption globally in the hard disk storage, industrial camera and automation markets. And the 1394-Automotive standard, which was developed in conjunction with major automakers worldwide, is gaining significant traction now, bringing the comprehensive in-vehicle network to cars beginning next year."

For many users, as indicated by the comments from Apple users, the high speed, reliability and guaranteed quality of service provided by IEEE 1394 are vital. 1394a delivers true throughput of 400 Megabits/second, compared with USB 2.0, which in practice delivers far lower throughput due to significant network overhead and the burden it places on the processor, despite claims of 480 Megabit/second speeds. The 1394b specification, now widely implemented in new products, delivers bandwidth close to 800 Megabits/second, in real-time, providing the highest quality of service and reliability.

For more information about the 1394/FireWire standard, visit

FireWire is a trademark of the 1394 Trade Association