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Will Firewire Survive The Switch To Intel?


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December 09, 2005

Will Firewire Survive The Switch To Intel?

Arik Hesseldahl

One of the very best things about being a Mac user over the last several years has been Apple’s persistent support of the Firewire interface. It was Firewire that made the first iPod a success because it loaded music so much faster than other MP3 players on the market that used only a USB connection (USB at that point was still in its earlier, slower iteration at the time).

All but one of my external backup hard drives are Firewire drives. My newest one – a portable drive from Seagate runs on USB 2.0. It’s a fine drive, but it hooking it up to my Powerbook means using up both my USB ports. The connection cords is this strange Y-shaped affair. One port handles data, the other power. This is not nearly as elegant and simple as the portable Firewire drives I have come to enjoy over the years from vendors like Iomega, LaCie, SmartDisk and others.

So this is why I strongly dislike the idea of losing the Firewire ports on Intel-based Macs, as The Apple Core Blog suggested Thursday. Apple has migrated the iPod family of products away from the Firewire interface, and that to me is a troubling sign of things to come.

Remember if you will, that Apple was among the first, if not the first, to add USB ports to it machines. It did that with the iMac, and in fact generated quite a bit of controversy in doing it, and leaving out older interface technologies like SCSI. It’s early move toward USB spurred others in the Wintel world to follow suit, and now USB 2.0 is the common connection interface for pretty much any kind of peripheral device, be it a printer, digital camera or what have you.

However if the physical Firewire connections do go away, could that open up the possibility of a wireless Firewire interface? I wrote about using Ultra Wideband technology in my last column. UWB will in time cut so many cords, that the cords themselves will seem almost quaint looking back. I wonder if maybe Apple is getting ready to use the Intel transition to shove the industry in a new direction by showing how computer design is done. If that happens, then I won’t feel so bad losing my Firewire connection.

02:47 PM

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I hope that they keep FireWire around until something better comes along. At least leave me one port that I can hub. However, time marches on, anyone remember AppleTalk? In a few years will have blazing fast wireless and complaining that it is too slow

Posted by: Fred C. Dobbs at December 9, 2005 03:17 PM

Don't take away my Firewire, please... It's so much faster than USB for transfer, and oh the joy of booting up in T and transfering lots of *legal* data from one computer to another...

Posted by: vanou at December 10, 2005 04:03 PM

Firewire will be incl on Macs for years to come. Especially given that all DV camcorders use firewire as the standard in/out. Wither iMovie? I think not. Apple's removal of firewire from iPods was simply a cost-cutting measure for a $200-400 device. For laptops and desktops that are $1000 and up this isnt a factor.

Posted by: Lee at December 11, 2005 11:28 AM

Apple has a huge committment to video editing systems. Final Cut Pro and Avid systems both require firewire for input and control for digital cameras and video decks.

I can't believe they could abandon firewire with this fact in mind.

Posted by: Rich at December 30, 2005 03:12 PM


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