FireWire is a good thing, sadly, it has seen better days. With the proliferation of USB 2.0 and SATA, people have been questioning the need for a technology like FireWire.
And, they have had some good reasons. Between USB 2.0 and SATA, existing FireWire technology is only really effective for certain products, Digital Video being the only one that a consumer would really want to touch. FireWire 400 (the one everyone uses) is deployed in everything from camcorders to HDTV cable boxes. However, camcorders have started reaching out to slipstreaming DV files via USB 2.0 and other means, so the deathwatches had started on IEEE 1394, FireWire and the whole consortium.
Apple hasn’t helped this trend either. For years, Apple had a web site that touted the benefits of FireWire (now replaced with a semi-cheesy developer page). But then iPod went USB 2.0, and aparrently word came down to provide only the same level of support as any other port on the Mac. Apple essentially decided to forget that it designed FireWire in the first place. And, there may have been good reason, FireWire 800 (the one nobody uses) has been a collossal flop. It’s expensive, slower than SATA, and with eSATA… why pay for slower gear?
This is the time where you cue the Star Wars music, and prep the Chapter IV: A New Hope line… enter FireWire S3200.
FireWire S3200 hasn’t been a big secret… I’ve been chatting it up with Apple… folk, for years. In fact, there was supposed to be an interim FireWire 1600, but that was scrapped after FireWire 800 failed miserably. Anyways, on to S3200! The new platform for FireWire tops SATA in every respect, it’s more than 2.5 times faster than SATA-150, and it’s almost 1.5 times faster than SATA-300. Plus, it accomplishes this without losing all the DV and anti-dumb-serial technologies that FireWire has always had (try daisy chaining USB… just try).
However, I haven’t had a chance to see if S3200 addresses some of the other ATA-based complaints about FireWire. For example, FireWire doesn’t have a standardized means of communicating SMART data from hard drives, crucial for anyone that cares about the life of their drive. But, judging by the press release, those kind of technical details shouldn’t be too hard to get a hold of within the next month.