New Mac user: Firewire 400 VS Firewire 800 - is there a real difference?

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by -Josh-, Nov 3, 2007.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2007
    #1
    So, to my understandings. Firewire is lke USB only faster, and Mac exclusive. Correct? So firewire 400 and firewire 800 is essentially the same accept it's twice as fast?

    But firewire 400 is faster than any USB regardless?

    Do I understand this corrently?

    Thanks for your time guys, new switcher here!
     
  2. macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #2
    Mostly correct. Both are hot-pluggable device cables, not quite Mac-exclusive though, though I know what you would think that. Firewire is a Apple-'owned' (they headed the Firewire consortium) and developed. It is also far more expensive since Apple receives royalties on it. Which is why it's usually not so common in the wintel world

    Firewire is also far far faster than USB. The number following the Firewire ###, is the speed in megabits, so 400 is 'twice' as fast as 800.

    google 'wiki firewire'
     
  3. macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
  4. Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    The Black Country, England
    #4
    Firewire isn't a Mac only thing, it's standard connection, most decent video cameras have firewire ports.

    Firewire is generally faster than USB when you are moving large amounts of information due to the way it handles data. And yes, FW800 is nominally twice as fast as FW400.

    You can read more here.
     
  5. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    #5
    400Mbit/s = 50MB/s
    800Mbit/s = 100MB/s
    (although with either one, throughput will be lower due to overhead)

    Single SATA hard disks are now approaching (and even in some cases occasionally passing) the 100MB/s barrier. So they can saturate a FW800 link.

    Some external drives actually have two disks in a striped/RAID 0 configuration. Such a configuration should be even faster.

    My own experience is that I rarely get real world transfer speeds greater than 39MB/s out of a FireWire 400 port. Speeds of 80-85MB/s are relatively common over FW800. So if you're moving large amounts of data, on modern disks, yes, the difference is HUGE.

    I have a first-generation Core Duo MBP. My only two issues with it at this point are 1) that it cannot be upgraded past 2GB RAM and 2) that it lacks a FireWire 800 port.

    Incidentally, FireWire 400 is not uncommon in the Windows world. My last three Windows PCs, all cheap premade ones, all had it. But I've never seen FireWire 800 on a store-buyable PC by anyone other than Apple.
     
  6. macrumors 65816

    rychencop

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
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    http://www.northaugusta.net/
    #6
    Actually USB 2 is faster than Firewire 400. USB 2 = 480Mbps and 400 = 400Mbps.
    Firewire 800 now is a different story.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2007
    #7
    Numerically USB 2.0 is faster than firewire 400, the in the real world is it the case?:rolleyes:
     
  8. macrumors 68020

    sunfast

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Location:
    London
    #8
    USB2 has a higher theoretical maximum than FW400 but in reality, due to the way it handles data, FW400 is significantly quicker. Particularly in the cases of large data transfers.
     
  9. macrumors 65816

    zub3qin

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2007
    #9
    How do you make an ext HD into a firewire one?

    I have a Seagate External HD.
    I had purchased the drive, and bought an enclosure. This is USB 2.0

    Now, can I just buy a different enclosure that is Firewire and place the drive into that, making it a Firewire drive?

    Is it that simple? Is there such an enclosure?

    Thanks.
     
  10. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Hong Kong, or Surrey, BC, Canada
    #10
    Yes. It's that simple. There is such an enclosure. You just have to be careful to get the correct harddrive interface (PATA vs. SATA).
     
  11. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #11
    So is it possible to get a firewire 800 hub and add more connection into it and getting greater speed - ie like usb2 you can buy hubs for it and make up to 7 other usb2 connections ?
     
  12. macrumors 601

    sammich

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2006
    Location:
    Sarcasmville.
    #12
    You can buy firewire 800 hubs, just google it. But as for it speeding it up, no. The hub simply acts as a splitter for the main cable. With a hub you can attach like 8 devices but they will ALL share the speed of the cable that connects the hub to the computer. All the hub does is allow you to connect more devices at the same time.
     
  13. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #13

    Thanks, makess sense now i remember i had my external hard drive connected to my 4 usb2 hub and wondered why it was so slow transfering to my laptop the minute i conneted the external to the usb2 hub on the laptop it was flying , so getting a hub firewire isnt really an option if you want speed nor usb2 for that matter , funny how they never put that on the packaging when your buying it lol
     
  14. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Hong Kong, or Surrey, BC, Canada
    #14
    Yep, and the beauty of Firewire -- daisy chain! Most devices will have 2 firewire ports, so you can connect devices like this:

    Computer -> Ext. HDD 1 -> Ext. HDD 2 -> DV Camcorder

    With just one cable coming out of the computer! That's also why you don't see like 10, 12 or 1000 USB ports on a computer. :p

    (Well, there's a limit number of 63 devices connected. I think that's more than enough, no?)

    Firewire also allows device to device communication without the aid of the host computer's processor. Beauty.
     
  15. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Location:
    Hong Kong, or Surrey, BC, Canada
    #15
    Hm... I just noticed something when I was just browsing around...

    (Quoted from Wikipedia)

    Why, Microsoft... why you? :p
     
  16. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2007
    #16
    Fyi

    Thursday, September 20, 2007
    IDF: USB3.0 Specs Expected in H1 2008 — Cormac @ 01:00 Discuss this

    Intel Corporation along with HP, Microsoft Corporation, NEC Corporation, NXP Semiconductors and Texas Instruments Incorporated have formed the USB 3.0 Promoter Group to create a faster personal USB interconnect that can deliver over 10 times the speed of today's connection. The technology will target fast sync-and-go transfer applications in the PC, consumer and mobile segments that are necessary as digital media become ubiquitous and file sizes increase up to and beyond 25 Gigabytes.

    USB 3.0 will create a backward-compatible standard with the same ease-of-use and plug and play capabilities of previous USB technologies. Targeting over 10x performance increase, the technology will draw from the same architecture of wired USB. In addition, the USB 3.0 specification will be optimized for low power and improved protocol efficiency. USB 3.0 ports and cabling will be designed to enable backward compatibility as well as future-proofing for optical capabilities.

    Intel formed the USB 3.0 Promoter Group with the understanding that the USB-IF would act as the trade association for the USB 3.0 specification. A completed USB 3.0 specification is expected by the first half of 2008. USB 3.0 implementations will initially be in the form of discrete silicon.

    Source: Intel Corporation
     
  17. Moderator

    OllyW

    Staff Member

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    Location:
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    #17
    I did a little test a while ago, backing up my iTunes library which at the time was just over 80GB with about 18,000 files.

    Backing up to a USB 2.0 HDD lasted over 2 hours.

    The same transfer over FW400 was about 50 minutes and only 22 minutes with FW800.
     
  18. L3X
    macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2006
    Location:
    Chesapeake, VA
    #18
    Definitely. I transfer large video files constantly at work, and FW400 is definitely faster than USB. Unfortunately, we haven't upgraded all our stuff to FW800 yet.
     
  19. JAT
    macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2001
    Location:
    Mpls, MN
    #19
    Translation:
    It will still not be as good as Firewire for hard drive usage.
     
  20. macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2004
    Location:
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    #20
    Not exactly. Apple receives approximately 25 cents royalty on Firewire devices.
    It's more expensive because it requires a smart Firewire controller to manage the data communications on the Firewire bus, whereas USB uses very inexpensive 'dumb' electronics and pushes the work of controlling the bus onto the computer's CPU.

    Red herring. Unless the hub is defective, plugging a FW or USB device into a hub should be exactly the same speed as plugging it into the machine. The slowdown the previous poster mention happens only when there is more than one device contending for bandwidth on the hub simultaneously.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Location:
    Carlisle, PA
    #21
    Let's also not forget that Firewire carries 3 times the amperage of USB 2.0 on the 6pin line (I'm not sure how much power Firewire800 carries) which makes it ideal for external bus powered drives. It can also deliver 6 times the voltage and 12 times the wattage. All in all, it is a superior standard, faster throughput, higher amperage, and daisy chaining.
     

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