FireWires demise heralded by critics!

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by PracticalMac, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. PracticalMac macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #1
    I was reading up on the new USB 3.0 when I noticed something:
    Despite knowledge about FireWire and FW 3200 and admission that it is a better protocol, all of them said it looked like FW is on its way out.

    Most telling, the writers pointed to the MacBook as proof that FW is fading!

    This article predicts USB3 and eSATA pushing out FW
    http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2007/09/intel-announces-demonstrates-usb-3-0.ars

    So, now we could have an addition to the VHS vs. Betamax, HDVD vs Blu-Ray, and Macintosh vs. Windows.
    Only that Apple potentially will lose TWICE.
    Is the fate of FW to be "betamaxed"?


    Regardless, I will continue to buy FW equipment, and every computer I buy will have FW on it, PC or Mac (of course there may be a point in the future where it will not be possible any more).

    I also TEACH all my friends about FW and why it is better then USB for external drives.

    To Apple: I am disappointed in your decision. FireWire can run rings around USB2, can do video streaming, DVD burning, audio streaming, all at the same time, and I bet it can also be a USB2 bridge (FW > USB > USB peripheral) at full USB2 speed and power.
     
  2. GSMiller macrumors 68000

    GSMiller

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    #2
    The only reason I bought an external HD with FireWire is to make use of the port on my iMac, and to keep a USB port free.
     
  3. Dmac77 macrumors 68020

    Dmac77

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    #3
    It's a shame that USB is going to win the battle. FW is so much faster then USB. At least it will be around for pros to use.

    Don
     
  4. GSMiller macrumors 68000

    GSMiller

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    #4
    Yeah I do enjoy FireWire quite a bit, haven't had any issues with it. It is rather ironic that Sony is beginning to drop support for it, wonder if that has anything to do with Apple not offering BRD drives in new Macs?
     
  5. topgunn macrumors 65816

    topgunn

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    #5
    I prefer FW to USB for external drives but if Apple started providing eSATA ports, I wouldn't use FW anymore.
     
  6. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #6
    That is a really good reason to use FW for.

    I use it for my Camcorder, external drives, 3 of them, and 2x iPod (one to sync, and the 5th Gen to charge), and with all the USB stuff I have, it is good to have USB ports free! (USB has its place, of course)


    eSATA is a one shot deal, only for HDD. If FW 3200 get in Mac's and external boxes, then there is no need for eSATA.
    FW3200 > eSATA in speed alone.
     
  7. Berlepsch macrumors 6502

    Berlepsch

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    #7
    Don't write off eSATA so quickly. eSATA can be used for all kinds of storage devices, like DVD/BlueRay drives or flash memory sticks, so it is not limited to HDDs only. The (theoretical) speed advantage of FW3200 is of interest only for daisy-chained drives, since your external enclosure will use ATA internally anyway. Also, eSATA drives communicate directly with the ATA controller on the mainboard, with no protocol overhead.

    Realistically, FireWire will slowly fade from the consumer market, just like SCSI did a couple of years ago. With the big market players embracing eSATA and USB 3, the niche for FW3200 is getting too small to attract vendors. And while some consumers are nowadays willing to pay an extra for faster FireWire enclosures (compared to USB 2), the speed difference between eSATA, USB 3 and FW3200 will probably be too small to notice.
     
  8. NoSmokingBandit macrumors 68000

    NoSmokingBandit

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    #8
    Imo, the most annoying thing about firewire is that you cant plug a 400 device into an 800 port and nice versa.
    From what i have read, you can plug a usb3 device into a 1.1 port and it works fine, just really really slow.
     
  9. Consultant macrumors G5

    Consultant

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    #9
    Firewire uses an additional chip that handles the transfer.
    That's why firewire is faster on most computers.

    USB needs to use your CPU to transfer.
    USB has latency issues.

    Pro apps still will use firewire.

    wintels, especially sony's implementation of firewire does not have bus power, which is needed for certain pro applications. People who need to use those firewire bus powered devices mostly migrated to Macs anyway, so sony is dropping their poor implementation of firewire.

    Adapter cable is cheap, few dollars will get you a cable from 800 to 400.

    With different (but compatible) ports it's easy to see if any device is slow for firewire devices.
    Although that doesn't really matter so much because first version of firewire is about 40 times faster than first version of usb.
     
  10. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #10
    I should have said for eternal storage devices, not just HDD, but so far it is only a point to point, no bus or hub ability, so it cannot split out to more devices.

    There is no reason for FW to fade out. All it takes is advertising and teaching. When the mass consumer knows of the advantages of FW, and is the recommended connection, then customers will be inclined to get a FW.

    SCSI was not an easy technology to use, FW is very easy.
     
  11. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #11
    Except that USB works the CPU, while FireWire doesn't tax your system.
     
  12. NoSmokingBandit macrumors 68000

    NoSmokingBandit

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    #12
    Take the average middle-aged computer user and show them firewire and usb. Tell them that usb uses their cpu and that firewire will require they carry an adapter cable around or install new pci cards in their computer when theres an update. 90% of people dont care about the cpu usage, they just want the convenience of knowing they can plug any usb device into any usb port and it works.
     
  13. surferfromuk macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Apple haven't abandoned FW...they've abandoned FW 400 and made a consumer/Pro distinction in their Macbook...

    Seems to me it's the camera manufacturer's that are leading the charge rather than Apple...
     
  14. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #14
    You already have 6 different kinds of USB connectors, and USB 3 adds a BUNCH more.

    Yes, you can plug a USB2 into USB 3 socket, but you CANNOT plug a USB 3 into USB2 socket.

    IOW, it is the same situation as FireWire 400 and 800.


    Oh, and the USB3 cables will be at least $60. FW 800 is $25.

    NOW what sounds better?


    OH, in case you are undecided.
    USB3 has MAX power rating of 900mA (0.9A) at 5 volts, a maximum of 4.5 watts.
    FireWire's MAX power rating of 45 Watts , up to 30V @ 1.5A.

    Edit, had my Watts confused with Amps, and missing Amp info
    Wiki is a reliable source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireWire#Technical_specifications
    OR go to http://1394ta.org/index.html for further proof.
     
  15. takao macrumors 68040

    takao

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    #15
    except that USB 3 has an optional mode in the protocol for use of an controller just like firewire
     
  16. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #16
    Can you back that statement up?
     
  17. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #17
    If you are saying my Amps and Watts where confused, thanks for pointing it out. Silly I did not catch that myself.

    I corrected my previous post.

    As for a backup to the statement, here is one of several:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FireWire#Technical_specifications
     
  18. FX120 macrumors 65816

    FX120

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    #18
    You're still a little confused, it's 45 watts at 30 volts, not 45 watts at 5 volts. The max a Firewire connection is rated for is 1500mA at up to 30 volts, getting you the 45 watts in the specification, in practice however you'll never see more than 12 volts used or provided by a device. Many computers are current limited below the spec, the Macbook for example will only supply a max of 1000mA at 9-12 volts.

    Anyway, the main reason firewire is becoming less relevant is because it never was very relevant to begin with. To many manufacturers, the additional 5-10% of performance offered by Firewire 400 is/ wasn't worth the cost of the parts, licensing, and development time. To many consumers, because there is only one port on their computer, if any, it's not worth the hassle and additional cost of buying gear and equipment that is capable of daisy-chaining, on top of the firewire gear that is already more expensive than a USB counterpart. Really the only use consumers had for firewire, was for DV, but as the camera manufacturers have switched to flash and hard disk medium, firewire is no longer required because the data can be transfered off in any order, and more manufacturers are using USB because FW is no longer required.

    CPU load isn't much of an issue these days, the small overhead of operating the USB protocol is barely noticable on todays fast, cheap, dual core processors. This was a relevent arguement 10 years ago durring the era of the G4 and Pentium 3, but not so much today.
     
  19. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #19
    Well you got me looking, and after some digging in the "FW System Acrh" it does state 1.5A.

    SCSI was not a very common port, but you could find a nice selection of products, from obscure to common (think ZIP drive).

    The performance difference between FW 400 and USB2 is larger, especially on long read/writes. At extreme, it can be about 70% faster (large read), overall average is about 30%, smallest gain is about 16% for small writes.
    Of course FW 800 is much faster.

    It is not the relevance, it is the support. Microsoft was/is spotty on FW 400 support, and worse with 800. Because of this, almost no PC maker has made a motherboard with FW 800.

    Sony, who was the first to use 400, chose to use the 4 pin, non powered connection, and that naturally shut off any kind of self powered device. All the laptops and any desktops with FW only use the 4 pin.

    Oh, about the camcorders. The DVD and HDD types (that use USB) use lossy compression on the video/audio, so the video output stream is smaller then uncompressed or "DV" type compression.
     
  20. theBB macrumors 68020

    theBB

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    #20
    I edited dv files using Adobe Premier Pro more than three years ago. All of the video was stored on a run of the mill USB2 enclosure, I did not see any problems. The modern computers are powerful enough that CPU does not get taxed that much. There is a reason people keep paying for all that computing power.

    Yes, you are right, you cannot daisy chain USB2 devices, external hard disks are still ~20% faster on FW400 etc, but Firewire hard disks are more expensive as well. Besides, hardly anybody would be video streaming, DVD burning and audio streaming at the same time. The benefits for regular consumers do not really justify the expense.
     
  21. talkingfuture macrumors 65816

    talkingfuture

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    #21
    I can honestly say that despite owning several computers over the years with firewire I have never used it. I suppose thats the problem it never went mainstream enough, USB 3 can be mainstream and work on consumer and pro products.
     
  22. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #22
    "can" is not certain.
    USB3 will be available, that is certain, but it may well be a pro feature as well.

    USB3 will be a premium feature for about a year, maybe 2.
    Few devices will truly take advantage if it, USB flash drives, USB -> Gigabit adapter, and fast CF readers are the only 3 I can think of that need the speed.
    eSATA will the main competition to USB3 for HDD enclosures from price/performance, and maybe faster the USB3.

    Bottom line
    Intel did an honest speed bump of USB1 to USB2 with barely any changes to the hardware.

    USB3 is an entirely different beast then USB2. It piggy backs on USB2 connector and has a parallel circuit to deal with USB2 data, but to achieve 4.8GBps transfer Intel started from scratch.

    And this is where the marketing comes in:
    But calling it "USB", people think it is the same, when it is not

    Just a little FYI
    FireWire 400 is a one direction transfer at a time (aka uni-directional, half-duplex), and is perfectly fine for video cameras.
    800 is a BI-directional (FULL duplex), meaning it can send and receive at the same time, but to do that it needed more wires, thus the need for a different connector.


    USB3 is not here yet.
    A lot of Mac uses to spend the extra $10~20 (I have no idea why people, Mac users in particular, are picky over a small difference) for a FW HDD enclosure.
    Meanwhile those USB ports are filling up with all manner of devices.
    Oh, what about Target Disk Mode?
     
  23. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #23
    The fact is that far more people use their computer as a media player, game console or web browser then use them to create digital content, mix down audio tracks or edit video.

    Apple and others know where the money is and will design equipment for the larger user base. So we can expect to see FW removed from low-end machines and glossly screens.
     
  24. weckart macrumors 68040

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    #24
    I've already noticed FW disappearing from third party peripherals. For one, portable HDD cases. If you have a PATA 2.5" drive, there are any number of cheap FW/USB cases to choose from. Look at SATA 2.5' drive cases and they are virtually all USB only, with a few offering ESATA and a handful with any form of FW at all, none of which is anything like as affordable as the PATA cases.

    Video cameras have ditched FW since HDDs are supplanting tape media, ESATA is faster, if less flexible, than FW for external drives. If it were not for professional apps, particularly in the music side of things, there would not be much of a case for keeping FW around at all even now.
     
  25. PracticalMac thread starter macrumors 68030

    PracticalMac

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    #25
    Not too hard to find:
    http://westerndigital.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=569
    [​IMG]

    One could also get this:
    http://www.wiebetech.com/products/toughtech_mini.php
    [​IMG]

    EDIT:
    Found another:
    http://freeagent.seagate.com/en-us/hard-drive/macintosh-hard-drive/Free-Agent.html
    [​IMG]


    There are other Porable-HDD's.


    Camcorders:
    And you can get an iLink equipped HDD Camcorder:
    http://camcorder.jvc.com/product.jsp?modelId=MODL027875&pathId=141&page=15


    Some interesting info:
    http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7594_102-0.html?forumID=59&threadID=297831
    That is interesting, because I DO live feed hookups to my Camcorder over AIM, Yahoo, or Skype, and the image quality is better then the USB camera I also use.
     

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