Apple Buys FireWire Developer Zayante, & What It Means [Corrected]

[Editoris Note: We originally reported USB 2.0, 1394a, and 1394b throughput incorrectly, as pointed out by Observers "algr" and Matt in the comments below. The article has been corrected with the proper figures.]

Apple has announced a new acquisition today, the purchase of Zayante. Zayante is the developer of low-level FireWire technologies, including controlling software and silicon solutions. According to Appleis press release, the CEO of Zayante will be joining Apple in order to promote FireWire (more below). From Appleis press release:

Apple® today announced it has acquired Zayante, a leader in IEEE 1394 (FireWire®) technology. Zayanteis president and CEO Prashant Kanhere will join Apple to promote the adoption of FireWire technology.

Zayante, Inc., was founded in 1996, and today Zayanteis IEEE 1394 silicon and software is used by leading consumer and computing product and semiconductor manufacturers seeking to produce 1394-compliant products.

For those seeking a translation, this acquisition gives Apple full control over every stage of developing FireWire technologies, something on which the company has heretofore had to rely on third party companies such as Zayante, Oxford, LSI, and TI. With Apple preparing to unveil 1394b, it is likely that this move plays a direct role in hastening development of that technology. FireWire has so far held a pivotal role in Appleis Digital Hub strategy, and 1394b may well be even more important in the companyis eyes.

1394b is the next generation of FireWire that will support throughput as high as 800 Mbps (as high as 100 MB/s), twice as fast as the current 1394ais potential of 400 Mbps (approximately 50 MB/s). 1394b is also seen as a trump to rival technology USB 2.0, which though slow to take off, has a theoretical maximum throughput of 480 Mbps (60 MB/s). Currently, USB 2.0 has a practical throughput of less than 13 MB/s, which is similar to the first generation of FireWire bridges that also had a practical limit of under 14 MB/s. The Oxford 911 FireWire bridge, the current fastest FireWire bridge, boasts actual speeds of up to 35 MB/s, and can be found in many hard drives and CD burners on the market today.

We spoke to FirewireDirectis Director, Roy Stocker, who told us that Apple has been working hard to boost the development cycle and time lines of 1394b. "Apple has been a good partner in developing FireWire as a platform," said Mr. Stocker. "With this acquisition, Apple now has the resources to further develop and bring to market 1394b products more quickly." Apple will also now be in the position to directly assist developers with the tools they need. FirewireDirect also tells TMO that the company will releasing its own 1394b peripherals "soon."

Other sources in the 1394 market who asked not to be identified told us that Apple has not been pleased with the pace of 1394b development, and is seeking to control the whole widget in order to better control that pace. Steve Jobs has often cited Appleis control over the hardware and software for the Mac platform as a strength, and may well be applying that reasoning to FireWire as well.

The terms of the acquisition were not revealed. You can find more information on Zayante at the companyis Web site.

Spin: This is a bit of surprise. Some in the 1394 world might even call it a wake-up call. Apple is supposedly keen on 1394b, and has now put its money where its mouth is. Thatis what we call a good thing™.

It almost makes you think of other aspects of the Mac platform that Apple might control. Think Processors.