Also known as IEEE 1394, 1394 and i.Link. A high-speed serial communications standard invented by American computer firm Apple Computer. Commonly used to attach camcorders, high-end digital cameras, external hard drives, scanners and other peripherals to computers.
FireWire is built into all Macintosh computers sold today and many Windows-compatible PCs also use it, though its far less common in the PC world. Sony sell the system under the name i.Link and many of their computers support it.
FireWire is hot-pluggable, which means its possible to disconnect a FireWire peripheral without risk of physical damage - theres just the risk of data loss if you happen to disconnect a device in the middle of a data transfer. It supports very high transfer rates. Regular FireWire 400 supports up to a theoretical maximum of 400 megabits per second and its successor FireWire 800 supports a theoretical maximum of double that.
Serial means that data is sent down the wire one bit at a time - there is just one data line. The converse is a parallel system which supports multiple data lines. Serial lines are popular for this type of application since the cables can be thinner and the connectors smaller.
cf. digital camera, Macintosh, USB, Windows.
Entry last updated 2002-04-30. Term 483 of 1487.
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