Recently we talked about USB 3.0 standard that able to scale up to 4.8Gbps data transmission speed. It is about ten times higher than current USB 2.0 standard in today PC market. During the last IDF (Intel Developer Forum), Intel did disclose that the specification could be available in first half of 2008. But now seems that the new FireWire S3200 standard, a main competitor for USB standard could get an earlier release by February 2008, before the availability of USB 3.0 specification. The FireWire S3200 is said to be able to achieve up to 3.2Gbps, make it closer to its competitor’s data speed.

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FireWire S3200 is the third version of IEEE 1394 proposed by the Trade Association. The first version, FireWire 400 ran at 400Mbps while the second version, FireWire 800 at 800Mbps. This third version is getting much higher throughput even though they are based on same protocol and even physical connections. As compared to USB 3.0 that needs different optical fiber connectivity as mentioned here in order to achieve gigabyte rate, FireWire S3200 has greater advantages of reusing existing cable and connectors based on its previous standard that could shorten development cycle as well as TTM (Time to market). Besides, FireWire utilizes peer to peer architecture which is less CPU dependent as compared to USB in Master/Slave mode. Furthermore, FireWire can be extended to up to 100 meter while able to supply more power over USB port.

Regardless of so many pros and cons, nobody can predict if FireWire will able to take up more market segment (now dominant by USB 2.0) in few years down the road. Even on the throughput delta, there is not much to say now on how much it will affect the actual device performance since the gigabyte rate usage is still under utilized.

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