firewire slower than usb2?

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by mikeabnooy, Mar 31, 2004.

  1. mikeabnooy macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2004
    My mac is a Yosemite BW G3 350 and i added a usb2.0 card so i could have some more usb slots. Well with my ipod mini it's terribly slow transfering info over firewire. USB2 is 5x faster. WHY? i don't get this. I can't use usb2 though with itunes. I need to transfer music couple times a week... i have 3000 songs it holds 1000 so i take what i'm in the mood for. Any recommendations? Should i get add a firewire card? maybe the firewire on board is bad? But i transfer video fine. Maybe the ipod mini problem? holla back yos! :mad:

    i'm using 10.3.2 and yeah...
  2. abhishekit macrumors 65816


    Nov 6, 2003
    akron , ohio
    dude...officially usb 2.0 transfers at 480 mbps, in comparison to 400 mbps of firewire...but still i m surprised at your observation..coz till now..i had heard that usb 2.0 performs noticibly slower than firewire..
    so hell...i dont know..
  3. cr2sh macrumors 68030


    May 28, 2002
    I'm not sure why your firewire would be "terribly slower." Firewire is 400MBps and USB2 is 480Mbps. That little bit isn't going to make that big of a difference. I'm not surw where you got the "5x faster" but that is incorrect.

    How long of a firewire cable are you using? There may be a problem.. what type of transfer rate do you get going from your ipod to your computer?
  4. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Here is the difference between firewire and usb. At max ideal conditions, usb is faster than firewire (just slightly), but the two have different ideal conditions. Usb was created for short bursts of data (mice, keyboards, printers), while firewire was developed for streaming data (hard drives, burners). Either can do the other, just not as good. You see usb do everything, but firewire stays away from mice and stuff for costs reasons.

    So if you are tranfering small packets of data (even like 100 1k files), usb is the way to go. But if you are doing anything normal (say bigger than a few k to huge, firewire should be you choice.

    Songs should transfer faster with firewire, so I really don't know what is going on with your system. I just thought I'd give you want info I know.
  5. jxyama macrumors 68040


    Apr 3, 2003
    "5x faster" is his observation.

    there must be something wrong with his iPod. if FW is fine for video transfers, then it's not the card or the port, it's the iPod.

    USB2 and FW should be almost identical in speed for syncing iPod, as others have implied.
  6. dudeami macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2004
    I would agree that something is wrong. With large transfers firewire typically runs faster than usb2. But even if usb could sustain its max transfer rate for the entire sync, it shouldn't be 5x faster.
  7. Chaszmyr macrumors 601


    Aug 9, 2002
    The iPod (and iPod mini) have transfer rates that are limited by the hard drive speed. Firewire and USB2 should consequently both transfer at effectively the same rate
  8. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    While the line speed for USB 2.0 is higher (as has been noted already), it has considerably higher overhead in terms of bits sent that aren't actually part of the data being transferred. Or so I've been told by my EE buddies.
  9. phreaker57x macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2003
    New York
    I recommend checking your firewire cable. I hear these things do weird things when damaged or bent. I would know since my iPod shipped with a faulty firewire cable and a replacement cable fixed everything.

    PS: I'm not sure, but I thought that FireWire cables were fiber optic? That would explain the fragility of them, but somehow that doesn't make sense. Someone correct me! :)
  10. crazzyeddie macrumors 68030


    Dec 7, 2002
    Florida, USA
    Nope, thats not true. At this stage, Firewire cables still use metal for transmission. Future Firewire technology is slated to use optical technology though.
  11. grapes911 Moderator emeritus


    Jul 28, 2003
    Citizens Bank Park
    Without going into a lot of detail, you are correct.
  12. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002

    It's first generation FW400.

    It's on a machine using the Motorola Grackle Chipset, not an Apple designed chipset.


    May want to ask somebody that installed a FW/USB2 PCI card, whether that has a faster implementation of FW that the built-in port.
  13. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Jan 6, 2004
    id guess that if the firewire works fine for video and that its not your card or your cord, i would guess what someone has alreayd posted - the speed of your mini's harddrive, it probably cant write as fast as the data can be transfered or something like that..

    just my 2cents...
  14. mikeabnooy thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 22, 2004
    i'm using the cables that came with the ipod mini. One is a firewire and one is a usb2 cable

    I transfered files over on both and literally found that the usb2 is 5x faster. LITERALLY. usb2 took 45 sec firwire took almost 5 minutes.
  15. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    Sorry, but like everybody else said, there's something wrong with your firewire connection, though what I'm not sure.

    Checking the cable has been mentioned several times already, and other things to check are if there are any updated drivers if you're using a FW add-in card (it'd probably be supported without drivers even if you were, but checking can't hurt), or maybe the firewire port itself isn't working right for some reason (they can get fried, though it's usually complete)--only way to check that would be to use another port.

    It might also be some weird combination of incompatibilities between the software and hardware you're using.

    Last ditch things: Reset PRAM (apple-p-r at startup, wait for three or four chimes), and reset NVRAM (can you even do that on a B&W?).

    Good luck. Oh, and I've done real-world tests with USB2 and FW400 on my G5 with the same combo external hard drive; FW was about twice as fast.
  16. jtown macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2003
    I have to agree with all of the peopel who say "something ain't right". I've got both FW400 and USB2 on my PC (don't even start!) and firewire is consistantly faster when transferring data from an external USB2/FW400 hard drive. I used an external 160 gig drive for video editing for a while. Everything was approximately 2x faster with firewire. Transferring 2.5 gig files took twice as long with USB2. Scanning a 2.5 gig file took twice as long with USB2. Moving through a file in linear editing mode was sluggish with USB2.

    The only change was switching from the FW cable to the USB2 cable. Same drive, same case, same data, same software.

    Firewire was also better at handling a saturated bus. Using firewire, I could capture data in a stream of approximately 1.5megs/sec, burn a DVD at 4x (from the firewire HD to a firewire burner daisy-chained thru the HD), encode video in DVD format (from the firewiire HD to the firewire HD), and author a DVD (from the firewire HD to the firewire HD). There was no problem at all maintaining the isochronous stream to the DVD burner. Hooked up via USB2, I had to cut out the DVD authoring because the buffer kept running short on the DVD burner.

    Basically, if your firewire connection is slower than your USB2 connection, something's wrong with your firewire setup. That's a fact.

    Check and see if the Yosemite is known for having a poor firewire controller. If that's the case, maybe you should switch your USB2 card for a USB2/FW800 card (may as well upate the FW while you're at it).
  17. Koodauw macrumors 68040


    Nov 17, 2003
    If you have to use Firewire to transfer your Songs with a mac (as stated on the iPod Mini box) How were you able to test it with USB 2.0?

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