Visions for the Future of FireWire

The research firm In-Stat recently suggested that FireWire is stagnating. However, on Tuesday, Apple announced that all Apple iMacs will include FireWire 800, and the 1394 Trade Association has taken that as evidence that FireWire is gaining significant momentum, according to ITWire on Thursday.

"Appleis introduction of new iMacs with 1394b this week demonstrates that the 1394b standard, also known as FireWIre 800, is gaining significant momentum," said James Snider, executive director of the 1394 Trade Association. "The storage product designers set the pace by adopting FireWire 800 for hard disk drives, and now, with this announcement from Apple, 1394b is in the mainstream." [The 1394 Trade Association is charged with the promotion of that protocol.]

Mr. Snider pointed out that FireWire 800 has been adopted by all the leading drive vendors: Seagate, Western Digital and LaCie. The prices of the FireWire 800 chipset are also declining. Oxford chipsets in RAID configurations can reach 250 MB/s.

FireWire, however, still faces challenges according to a report from In-Stat in June. The market research firm said that FireWire market share is stagnating, and they see a decline starting in 2009.

Others have called into question the viability of FireWire ever since Apple chose to move its iPods to USB 2.0 in order to expand into the PC world. In addition, it took a very long time for FireWire 800 to become mainstream and was typically seen only on the professional level Macintoshes.

Despite all this, FireWire 800 is still the fastest protocol for consumer storage devices, and Apple clearly sees that technology being viable for a few more years. Eventually, something will replace it, but Apple is betting on FireWire 800 right now in its Macintosh line as the best solution, and that commitment goes a long way towards, in turn, influencing the rest of the industry.