Frequently Asked Questions About FireWire 400 Cables

FireWire is a data transfer technology that is used to connect devices such as printers and cameras to each other or to a computer. The technical name of this protocol is IEEE 1394, and it supports several different connector types in the form of 4-pin and 6-pin cables. The 1394a version of this technology supports all devices that are compatible with FireWire 400 data transfer protocol.

What are these cables used for?

IEEE 1394 cables are used to transfer data between electronic devices and computers. FireWire technology supports plug-and-play data connections, so the operating system can automatically discover connected devices and prompt the user for instructions on how to handle the connection. With IEEE 1394 technology, devices are hot-swappable. This means that they don’t need to be powered off before being plugged into another device.

What is the data transfer rate of these cables?

FireWire 400 cables can transfer data at speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 400 Mbps. The data transfer capabilities can be extended by connecting multiple cables together in a daisy chain. This method involves linking cables together with signal repeaters at the connection points. Devices that are compatible with FireWire support daisy chains by internally boosting the signal and outputting it at full strength.

What devices are compatible with FireWire?

All types of electronic devices support IEEE 1394a protocol. From printers to camcorders to MP3 players, the hardware supported by this technology is designed to connect to a computer or directly to another device. Some compatible pieces of equipment include:

  • Audio interfaces
  • Headsets and microphones
  • External hard drives
  • Memory cards
  • Data storage hubs
Is a computer required to establish a FireWire connection?

The IEEE 1394 protocol supports peer-to-peer data transfer, so compatible devices don’t need to be connected to a computer in order to send and receive information. This feature eliminates the need to use system resources for connected FireWire equipment. A series of up to 16 devices can be connected to a computer by a daisy chain without taking up any memory or processing resources.

What operating systems support FireWire?

This technology is supported by Mac OS X, Windows, and Unix-like operating systems. These platforms have FireWire support built-in. No configuration is necessary before plugging in a device and transferring data. If additional drivers are needed to interface with a device, the operating system will typically download and install these packages automatically.