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IEEE 1394 is a versatile high-speed method to interconnect a personal computer with a variety of pheripherals (such as hard disks and color ptinters) and to interconnect consumer electronic devices (such as digital-video recorders and home theatre equipment).
IEEE 1394 is a serial bus interface that currently offers data transfer speeds of 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1,600 Mbps. Multiple devices can be linked either in a daisy chain, tree, star or any combination of these. IEEE 1394 allows up to 16 physical connections (cable hops), each with a maximum length of 4.5 meter.
IEEE 1394 has the the ability to hot-plug devices, which means that consumers can add or remove 1394 devices without the need to reset the network. 1394 can also provide electrical power from the computer to the connected peripheral devices. The 1394 cable is physically small. The 6-pin connector has two data wires and two power wires. 1394 doesn't carry a lot of power, it's only suitable for low-power devices. Devices requiring more power, such as an external hard drive, will need their own power supply.
IEEE 1394 is originally developed by Apple in the early-1990s as a means to connect Macintosh computers with peripherals in a fast and easy manner. It was a replacement for the SCSI interface used on early Macintosh computers. The bus Apple created offered both an improvement in speed and in ease of use over SCSI. Apple gave the technology the name FireWire. FireWire was eventually standardized under the name IEEE 1394 as a standard for low-cost, high data rate connections.
In the beginning, it only appeared on computers that Apple or Sony built. It was also popular on digital camcorder devices and by those performing video editing. The large data files involved with video editing made a high-speed data transfer option, such as IEEE 1394, a necessity. Sony has, like Apple, its own trademarked name for the technology. Sony calls it i.LINK.
Nowadays, IEEE 1394, has been adopted by consumer electronics manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, Philips and Grunding. IEEE 1394 is also endorsed by the European Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project as their digital television interface.
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