IEEE-1394 serial bus gains momentum

The 1394 Trade Association, an international organization of more than 170 companies worldwide, projects that 1999 will be an outstanding year for the IEEE-1394 high-performance serial bus and that many new 1394-equipped PCs, peripherals, and digital cameras will be introduced. Because of its higher speeds, lower cost, and hot-pluggability, the 1394 bus is finding widespread use in industrial control, measurement, and instrumentation applications.

May 1st, 1999

IEEE-1394 serial bus gains momentum

George Kotelly Executive Editor

georgek@pennwell.com

The 1394 Trade Association, an international organization of more than 170 companies worldwide, projects that 1999 will be an outstanding year for the IEEE-1394 high-performance serial bus and that many new 1394-equipped PCs, peripherals, and digital cameras will be introduced. Because of its higher speeds, lower cost, and hot-pluggability, the 1394 bus is finding widespread use in industrial control, measurement, and instrumentation applications.

Association chairman James Snider of Texas Instruments (TI; Dallas, TX) and members of the Trade Association board, who represent companies including Apple Computer, Compaq Computer, Lucent Technologies, IBM Microelectronics, AMD, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Sony, Matsushita Electric, Molex, NEC Electronics, Philips, and Sun Microsystems, says, OThe IEEE-1394 specifications are going into PC peripherals such as printers, scanners, and hard-disk drives. Mass storage and desktop cameras that use 1394 are already in the market. These peripherals are based on silicon chips operating at 400 Mbit/s, which is much higher than other standards can provide. The evidence shows a clear trend toward 1394 across the industry, because it is fast and provides wide bandwidth with peer-to-peer connectivity.O

The 1394 serial bus peer-to-peer capability means peripherals can connect directly to each other, such as a scanner and a printer for Ophotocopies.O In addition, digital cameras are able to connect directly to a printer with no need for a PC between them.

Based on orders for semiconductors, nearly 8 million PCs will be delivered with IEEE-1394 compatibility this year for use with a variety of peripherals. Larry Blackledge, TI worldwide business development manager for bus solutions, estimates that TI alone will ship a total of 24 million 1394 chipsets in the year 2000, with most of the growth coming from demand among the leading PC manufacturers.

Says Jay Shears, Epson director of printer product marketing, OEpson has plans to offer a FireWire connectivity solution in 1999 for use with our high-end color ink-jet printers. FireWire will provide the improved performance and greater flexibility in printing applications. The multihost topology of FireWire will also allow for the sharing of our peripherals in small work groups.O

The benefits of 1394 over other bus architectures for high-speed, real-time data storage and transfer are also cited by Michael Teener, chief technical officer at Zayante Inc. (Scotts Valley, CA) and the leader of the technical team that first developed 1394, or FireWire, at Apple Computer. He says, OExternal storage devices require very high speeds such as the 400 Mbit/s already provided by existing 1394 devices and the upgrades to 800 and 1600 Mbit/s that will be available when we conclude our work on the 1394b specification later this year.O

OTI is now seeing a significant increase in demand for our 1394 semiconductor and software products in 1999, with all indicators pointing to a very good year 2000,O says Harry Davoody, vice president of TI. OPC peripherals makers around the world are ramping up to introduce 1394 products in 1999, with multiple vendors supplying scanners, printers, desktop cameras, and mass storage devices.O

Jay Kelbley of Eastman Kodak Co. (Rochester, NY) also is optimistic about the standard?s growth this year. OKodak sees FireWire as the high-bandwidth connectivity solution, and we are currently shipping several models of our professional cameras with the standard built in. As performance requirements for peripherals increase, you will see more and more products from Kodak that incorporate it,O he adds.

OHewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) believes that the universal serial bus and 1394 will both be required in future printing and scanning needs,O says Mark Fidler, senior engineer scientist for HP?s network peripherals solutions division. OWe will definitely need the high functionality and performance of 1394.O

On the software side, Microsoft Corp. (Redmond, WA) has reinforced its commitment to 1394. Carl Stork, general manager of the Windows Hardware Strategy and Evangelism Group, states, OMicrosoft has been a longstanding supporter of the performance plug-and-play benefits 1394 can deliver for PC users. We were pleased to integrate support for the 1394 bus in Windows 98 last year, and we are looking to adding support for advanced 1394 applications such as storage, printing, and digital video in forthcoming releases of Windows 98 Second Edition and Windows 2000.O

Moreover, 3A International Inc. (Tempe, AZ) is offering developers an IEEE-1394 Interface Kit, which combines 1394 functionality with Windows CE-based and Windows NT-based products and contains drivers and APIs for both platforms. The kit supports both asynchronous and isochronous transmissions and includes an API for digital cameras.

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