|An informational and technical guide to selecting the best hard drive for building a new computer or upgrading a current system.|
Firewire (IEEE 1394) Hard Drives
Firewire (also known as IEEE 1394) is a high-speed serial connection that allows for asynchronous and isochronous data transfers. The IEEE 1394 specification was originally created by Apple in 1995 and was developed in coordination with the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) group. Apple wanted to create an adaptable, low-cost digital interface that could be used on electronic devices and computers. The Firewire standard has been adopted by a number of manufacturers and can now be found on a variety of devices, such as digital cameras, CD recorders, computer audio interfaces, and hard drives and other storage devices.
The Firewire (IEEE 1394) Standard
The Firewire standard
works in two different versions. The first version (known as the backplane
version) uses a backplane physical layer and supports transfer burst rates
of 12.5, 25, and 50 Megabits per second (Mbits/sec). The second version (known
as the cable version) supports data burst rates of up to 100, 200, and
400 Mbits/sec. This makes Firewire one of the fastest peripheral standards ever
created. Firewire peripherals are also "hot-swappable" — so you can plug or unplug
any number of devices while the devices and computer are "running". (This is
vastly different from SCSI and IDE devices, for example, all of which must be powered
down before they can be connected and disconnected.)
Another great feature of Firewire is that is supports up to 63 devices with a maximum cable length of 4.5 meters (14.8 ft.). If longer cable lengths are desired, you can run up to 16 devices with a maximum length of 72 meters (236 ft.). When multiple Firewire devices are used, each device automatically determines its own address, which makes Firewire very easy to use.
Firewire Hard Drives are IDE Hard Drives
Another interesting fact: all Firewire hard drives are actually IDE hard drives with an interface controller. This controller transfers the data between the Firewire bus and the IDE hard drive. Almost all Firewire hard drives function in half duplex mode, which means they cannot read and write at the same time. Most users of Firewire hard drives experience a large amount of dropouts and glitches when recording to and from their drives. This makes the drive only useful for storage.
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Options to look for when purchasing a Firewire hard drive?
One of the first requirements you need to look at is what kind of data throughput you are going to need. The best Firewire hard drives, that are made specifically for audio, are able to stream up to a maximum of around 30 MB per second. While this is fine for most recording applications, some people require better throughput. Most "over the counter" hard drives only stream up to a maximum of around 20 MB/sec.
Large Selection of Firewire Hard Drives here in the Storage Section.
If you are running a PC and do not have a Firewire port on your Motherboard, you can add a PCI Firewire card. Most Firewire PCI cards are very inexpensive, but we recommend only running those approved for audio applications. Otherwise you might get a PCI card that is not able to stream data correctly. There are some great PCI Firewire cards here.
Here is very good Firewire PCI Host Adapter card.
Need Cables: Use this handy Cables Finder
Go to: USB and Portable Hard Drives