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USB2 Specs Are In 145

Posted by Roblimo
from the go-speed-racer-go dept.
PooF writes "USB 2.0 has been announced. It seems sweet, its faster than firewire at 480 Mb/s. An article from pc.ign.com on USB 2.0. Oh yea these are only the specs they hope to achieve no word on progress in implementing them."
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USB2 Specs Are In

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  • You wouldn't happen to think I was talking about firewire being the unused technology, would you? Even my 80 year old grand father knows USB is currently in use.
  • >Firewire has TONS of gates and takes a lot of silicon to make a chip.

    This cost argument for USB vs. Firewire is a total red herring, on two levels:
    1. The price difference is tiny. Let's say for the sake of argument that the circuitry for Firewire is 4x as complex as that for USB2 (and that's an exaggeration). That may require one step up in which ASIC family you use, meaning that in high volume we'd be talking about the difference between $2 and $5.
    2. The total complexity isn't really different, it's just the distribution of complexity between hosts and devices. USB allows simpler devices, but requires more complex host hardware.
    So, there are circumstances where USB is indeed a win. When?
    • When the devices you're connecting are cheap enough - say, less than $50 apiece - so that the interconnect component cost is a significant fraction of the total.
    • When you're connecting a fair number of devices, so that the savings in device components outweighs the extra cost in host components.
    • When the devices don't need to be shared or act as initiators, which USB can't handle.
    As it turns out, this is a perfect justification for using USB1 in a large number of cases. There may even be a few cases where it justifies USB2, but IMO those cases are likely to be rare; generally the devices that would need the extra bandwidth fail the first requirement above (of being cheap enough for interconnect-component cost to matter).
  • >>Apple controls firewire
    >
    >IEEE 1394 is an international standard. It is not controlled by any one company.

    Actually, this could stand some clarification. P1394 is an IEEE standard which anyone can use without licensing fees, but "Firewire" is an Apple trademark. That's why Sony, for example, refers to P1394 as iLink instead.

    Apple's fees for using the "Firewire" name are IMO justified by their investment in making that name appealing to consumers. Also, their fees are very modest ($1 per unit, IIRC) and above-board. By contrast, the "Intel tax" on USB is just as real and much more substantial, but hidden in the form of additional motherboard component cost. Also, Intel's grip is not just on the name but on the technology itself, which they will never allow to become a true open standard. Intel's idea of openness is to blackmail companies that depend on them for other products into making false shows of "broad industry support".

    It's amazing to me that anyone here on slashdot, where people bash BSD and Red Hat because they're not "open" enough, would play into Intel's hands so willingly. Intel is the ultimate proprietary-everything company, worse even than M$.
  • OS News [osnews.com] Ran this in early September, with a good link to Mackido's [mackido.com] site. Here [mackido.com] is is Mackidos take on it. The basics: USB 2.0 is no where near what FireWire offers now! When USB 2.0 hits the streets, FireWire will be even faster. Plus USB 2.0 was designed for low end devices, Mackido discusses why it would be a nightmare for anything else.
  • ooops, that should be 127 devices for USB, and 63 for Firewire.
  • USB 2.0 to Move "Like, really, really fast" Say Sources

    Yeah yeah, very cute.

    you can transfer a cow in about 5 seconds.

    But what about pig tranfers? Elephants?

    So, when will this all get so fast that I only need to think about transferring data to make it happen?

  • Untill the iMac USB was not really taking off.

    I don't think you can necessarily draw that coorelation. USB has slowly gained acceptance at the same time as two market changes occured.

    1. The introduction of the iMac,
    and
    2. The growth in adoption of Windows 98

    With the iMac, Apple basically forced people to adopt USB-based peripherals for certain functions, namely removable storage devices (Zip drives and floppy drives.)

    With Windows 98 all kinds of new stuff is cropping up in the market. Scanners, speaker systems (which function without needing a sound card), modems, mice and keyboards. Digital cameras too. Generally at this point for a number of completely external peripherals the choice on the shelf is between the hoary old parallel port or USB. USB fits nicely into the niche for medium-end external peripherals.
  • by jht (5006) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @05:02AM (#1617281) Homepage Journal
    This was covered in an earlier slashdot thread this summer. Faster USB is great. 12 MBits/sec is fast by serial port standards, but not fast enough for some of the things people want to use USB for (low-end video transfer, external mass storage, Ethernet, etc.). Despite that, there's a great mass market for Firewire, too. Here's why:

    1: USB already has low-speed, misbehaved, "legacy" devices that need to be backwards compatible with the new spec. Firewire's legacy peripherals operate at 200 Mbits/sec. 'nuff said.

    2: USB requires processor arbitration to run the bus. Firewire doesn't.

    3: USB's design is specifically as a low-cost interface for PC peripherals. The hub-based design is a byproduct of this. Firewire is designed as a more general-purpose, device/device interface. Firewire can nicely connect consumer products to one another, no PC required.

    However, USB has a higher "theoretical" maximum number of devices supported per controller, 127 (in USB 1.1), versus Firewire's 64. In practice, 64 Firewire devices is do-able, if silly. More than 4-5 USB devices (with a powered external hub) is pushing the limits. The only place where USB reaches the upper limits is at USB technology bake-offs.

    I love USB (heck, it's in all my PC's and both my home Macs), and it's a great cross-platform standard for computer-oriented low-end to midrange peripherals. Firewire is better for high-end devices (prepress scanners, hard drives, video equipment, etc.), but it's a general-purpose interface, and that's why it will ultimately do well. The two interfaces are not, by any stretch of the imagination, mutually exclusive. Anybody who thinks that you can only use one either needs to buy a Mac to prove otherwise or board the cluetrain.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • My company (Vitana [vitana.com]) is currently working with both USB and FireWire / iLink / IEEE 1394. And as I've said lots of times before: they're different technologies for different purposes.

    1394 is a peer-to-peer style interface. It has a lot of communications overhead and special modes designed for audio/video data. Because it's peer to peer, each node can communicate with any other node asynchronously.

    USB is a host to client style interface. It also has special modes for audio/video data, for bulk transfers (like a scanner's output), control signals and regular data pipes. All communication must pass through the host, and the host initiates all transactions. While it may seem that your USB camera is shoving data into the computer, the computer is actually polling the camera all the time, asking if it has anything more to send.

    There's a lot more to these protocols than just the MHz, and neither is better than the other, it's just that often one is more suited to certain tasks than the other.

  • Firewire2 [1394ta.org] (IEEE 1394.b) which is probably on the same timeline as USB2 offers speeds of 800 MBps, 1.6 Gbps, and 3.2 Gbps.

    Last year, Lucent demoed a 1.6 Gpbs chipset.

    Oh. And you can run TCP/IP over Firewire! Linux will soon have a Firewire stack. And it's a lot cheaper than SCSI.

    Right now you get 400 Mbps with the non-vaporware Firewire, about 35 times faster than the non-vaporware USB that exists today.

    Comparing the vaporware USB2 to today's Firewire is like comparing a Pentium to a 286.

  • by kroah (751) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @05:19AM (#1617284) Homepage Journal
    OK, I'm actually at the USB 2.0 Devcon right now, and have read the 2.0 proposed spec, so I'll take a stab at refuting these comments:

    1.The usb.org article only claims "120-240Mbps". It's not clear where the ign.com article came up with 480Mbps.
    The speed is 480Mbs. That is what the spec says.

    2.Even if USB2 runs at 480Mbps, the Firewire folks aren't exactly standing still. Any raw bandwidth advantage of USB2 is sure to be short-lived at best.
    Firewire and USB have too many things that are not in common, they really are not competitors. USB is aimed to be a PC centric bus. There has to be only one host, and a whole lot of clients. Firewire can be host to host. Firewire is more intrenched in the consumer electronic market, while USB is sticking to the PC (for now).

    3.There's lots of blather in the USB2 announcement about supporting video cameras etc. but IIRC USB doesn't support the isochronous transfers which are usually considered necessary to serve those markets. Did I miss something?
    You missed something. USB has always supported isochronous transfers. Look at the USB speakers from Philips for an example of a shipping product that uses this. Isochronous is still there for 2.0.

    4.Another useful Firewire feature that USB doesn't seem to have is providing power through the same connector used for communications. Again, I may have missed it.
    USB has ALWAYS supported power on the connector. How else does some of the devices work? 2.0 does not change this. It's still 5V at 100mA-500mA depending on what you need and ask for. If you need more power, take a look at the Plus Power Connector that IBM supports for USB. It can provide 12V or 24V at 3A. That's about all the current that anyone needs.

    5.I don't remember how many devices USB supports, but I suspect it's less than Firewire.
    USB supports 127 devices per host controller. You can plug in more than one host controller in your PC at a time. The record (I think) for most devices plugged in and working at once is around 144.

    6.I know that USB-based host-to-host networking exists, but it's not clear to me whether it's really as well suited to that task as Firewire. In particular, I wonder how much asymmetry between hosts and devices (a la initiators and targets in SCSI) is built into the protocol, and how round-trip latency compares to other technologies.
    As I said above, USB is a host-client bus. You can make (and buy) a device that does networking over USB from one computer to another, but this is just two client devices talking together in a box. Firewire can do true host to host on the bus itself. The USB protocol is a star topology with the PC host controller at the top. I can look up the round trip latency stuff somewhere, but it is built into the protocol, and the host and hub controllers seem to handle it well.

    7.Similarly, I'd like seeing a comparison of how automagically reconfiguration happens when devices are added or removed using each technology.
    I don't really know how Firewire does this at all, but USB handles this wonderfully. There is a description of how the protocol handles all of this in the spec (at www.usb.org [usb.org]).
    In summary, USB 2.0 looks like it handles a lot of the speed issues that some people had with 1.1. It provides backward compatibility with all 1.1 and 1.0 devices and enables things like speakers and video cameras to run better.
    Like it or not, USB looks to be here for a while. A lot of computers are coming out without a lot of different connectors, and USB is replacing them.

    Ob Linux: USB is working on Linux in the 2.3.x series of kernels (it's also supported a little in the 2.2.x series, but not for many devices.) More information is at www.linux-usb.org [linux-usb.org]
  • by ford42 (90100)

    AC wrote "So god damn fragging what? You got a problem with competition?"

    When "competition" entails using FUD to get market acceptance of a technologically inferior standard, then, yes, I do have a problem with it.

  • Is it only me that finds this rather humorous that they've gone and made a technology faster than an existing one that is not even used.
  • by rde (17364)
    you can transfer a cow in about 5 seconds.
    You know, if Zd would adopt this style of reporting, I'd probably get to the end of one of their articles.
  • I believe that I read somewhere (MacWEEK? The Register?) that USB 2.0, which isn't even being developed beyond a spec, was a move by Intel to try to squash FireWire for some reason. My memory fails me as to where I read that article. It was speculative, not stating it as fact, but it said basically what the comment said: not really being developed, just announced. What sort of practice does this remind you of? (Answer: MS in the 1980s and early 90s.)

    We have enough trouble getting USB 1.16 to work under Linux.. don't need to mess with 2.0.
  • by SuperScan (92230) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @03:24AM (#1617292)
    I think not. USB 2.0 may be faster in terms of throughput than Firewire, but not on CPU utilization. USB sucks up more processor, and thereby slowing your entire machine down. This is another example of Chipzilla driving a "need" for faster processors. Remember about a year ago when DVD technology came to the PC arena. Some video card companies came out with hardware DVD decoding solutions. Intel made the push that their Pentium II processors could easily handle software decoding of DVD, and therefore the hardware DVD solutions were not needed. I'm all for the fastest processor, but not when it's need to mask performance bottlenecks in other areas. Who wants to do one thing on their PC? Why do we even try to multitask? And I guess the fact that Firewire was invented by Apple has nothing to do with Intel pushing their new "faster" solution.
  • About Firewire : Intel is one of the licenseholders.
    USB 2.0 is a poor technology.
    Instead of trusting the jobs (copying etc.) to the devices, USB 2.0 relies on the processor to access devices.
    This means huge processorloads, firewire is better.
    Next, USB 2.0 has the same fee as USB 1.0 namely $ 0,25 a machine.
    The pricing is the same as firewire.
    Only difference is that Intel is getting the full $ 0,25 instead of the $ 0,25 / /7 which Apple, Sony, JVC, Motorola and Intel are getting for Firewire.
  • hmmmm...

    thanks for that very interesting, insightfull remark (moderators, do your work..)


    > Actually USB didn't take off because of the
    > Imac, it just happens that USB components
    > became widely available just
    > around the same time.

    I agree that Apple benifited more from USB then vice-verca. (the decision to ditch ADB and put USB exclusivly on the iMac was pure genious, BTW - since it forced USB perif makers to write drivers for the mac, since it was clear that it was the one market that really needs USB periferals, since there was no other perif I/O port..)

    However for some odd reason USB devices on the PC still havn't really taken off, proabably because, unlike Apple, X86 motherboard makers are too scared to kill the legacy serial ports (obviously becuase of backword compatability.. which is a very good reason). I wonder what is the ratio between USB periferal bought for Macs in ralation to USB devices that will get used by PC's.. My guess (And that's all that it is, A guess) that it is at least 50%+ are for Mac's. That's what I meant. USB makers benifited a lot from Apples USB decision.

    The cost issue you rase definetly is an interesting issue. we will wait and see.

    --------------------------------
  • Let me get this straight, you find it notable that a spec for something that is not shipping, is faster than the spec of something that is shipping? Then why don't you point out that specs for higher speed versions of firewire were out long before the spec for USB2
  • by overshoot (39700) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @05:35AM (#1617300)
    Actually, this is specsmanship. Where IEEE1394 does its arbitration, framing, etc. at a minimum of 100 Mb/s and usually at 400 Mb/s, USB of any flavor does its polling (notice, it is *not* a peer interconnect) and framing at no more than 12 Mb/s (assuming that there are no low-speed 1.5 Mb/s devices in the path).

    Each packet in USB2 starts out with the same preamble (12Mb/s) and ends with the same postamble (12Mb/s); the new twist is that there may be a tone burst in the middle of 480 Mb/s or whatever. Unless you ship really huge packets (which aren't allowed by the protocol anyway) the average transfer rate is a lot lower than 408 Mb/s.
  • I found this article rather informative:

    http://www.edtn.com/analog/c028.htm [edtn.com]

    BTW - By the time USB 2.0 arrives, FireWire should up to 800 or 1600 Mbps. But that doesn't really matter. Even if the future USB 2.0 reaches today's FireWire throughput, it doesn't fix the USB protocol.

    The fundamental problem with USB is that is was designed to be a CPU pig (thank you Intel). FireWire is the polar opposite and can do cool things like have your (FireWire) hard drive DMA a video stream directly from your camcorder.

  • >OK, I'm actually at the USB 2.0 Devcon right now, and have read the 2.0 proposed spec, so I'll take a stab at refuting these comments:

    Thank you for identifying your vested interest. That's all too rare around here.

    >>2.Even if USB2 runs at 480Mbps, the Firewire folks aren't exactly standing still. Any raw bandwidth advantage of USB2 is sure to be short-lived at best.
    >Firewire and USB have too many things that are not in common, they really are not competitors

    In other words: yes, Firewire will over the long term retain a significant raw-bandwidth advantage despite very short-term leapfrogging.

    I stand corrected on isochrony, power through the connector, and number of hosts. I'm glad someone with more authoritative information was there to correct any incorrect impressions that might have resulted from my earlier post.

    >In summary, USB 2.0 looks like it handles a lot of the speed issues that some people had with 1.1.

    My question is: what speed issues did people have that would not have been adequately addressed by implementing both USB and Firewire? As many people including yourself have pointed out, there are still and will always be important differences between the two, and "one size fits all" is more often than not a lousy philosophy in computing.

    >Like it or not, USB looks to be here for a while

    I have nothing against USB in and of itself. My concern is that Firewire already exists and as near as I can tell already addresses the issues which USB2 seems to be trying to address (as compared to USB1). I happen to dislike reinvented wheels; I would have been much happier if the USB folks had let USB do what USB does best, and let Firewire do what Firewire does best, and go off to do other more useful things with their time. Competition is great, but there's plenty in both technical areas already. Pushing USB into the Firewire "problem space" is just an attempt by Intel to squash competition in the high-speed interconnect market by leveraging their position as the largest PC chipset manufacturer.
  • with every company trying to give IEEE 1394 their own name (and some trying to charge by the port, as Apple is trying with the name "firewire"), it has no chance.

    I think you mean as Apple was trying with the name "firewire". Apple gave up on that quite a while ago, realising it wasn't making them any friends or winning acceptance for FW. It was right around that time that Intel initially announced USB2.0. Months and months ago this was. (Which reminds me -- this ain't exactly news, Roblimo...)

  • Check out this Gamespot ref [gamespot.com]

    USB2 will have no more power than USB1.1... note to self - buy additional power strip.

  • even if you were talking about firewire, you'd still be wrong. perhaps you don't personally use it, but saying that no one uses [usb|firewire] is the same as me saying no one uses FreeBSD because i don't use it, and i haven't seen anyone personally use it. it is just silly. and i do use firewire (digital video between cameras and sgi's) and i've seen lots of people use it.
  • This has been said so many times that I risk losing karma here for being redundant...

    USB and Firewire were never intended for the same purpose! USB was intended for low-bandwidth stuff (mice, keyboards, printers, speakers). FW is aimed at higher bandwidth stuff. Most typically, your average home computer user would probably prefer a FW hard drive. DV and even networking are also within FW's desmesne.

    Look at the G3 and G4 machines from Apple. USB and FW co-exist. Why on earth would you need your hard drive's bus and your mouse's bus to be co-compatible?? Sounds to me like you're saying that SCSI was a bad idea because you couldn't run your mouse through it. If you buy a SCSI PCI card, do you need to buy a new keyboard?

    As for your implied price comparisons between USB hard-drives and FW hard-drives... you get what you pay for. I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect that USB drives are cheaper because they don't need to be as fast. It's like comparing SCSI drives with IDE drives. SCSI may be technically superior (and faster), but IDE is cheaper. You may be kicking yourself later when the latest & greatest thing needs a hard-drive connection faster than USB can provide you...

  • USB has a horrible weakness with regard to cable length. I won't give a number, because it isn't worth pulling out the spec, but when I looked closely at implementing some peripherals for USB, I found the actuality of the specs to be disappointing, at best.

    Nothing of any size or complexity can be put together in USB without hubs, and as others have pointed out:

    1. USB requires the presence of a PC
    2. USB sucks CPU

    If USB is the future of interconnect, we better start placing our hopes in systems which are self-contained.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    BTW http://www.maccentral.com (yes, I know, God for bid you have to go to a mac site to clairify) Firewire will be bootable shortly. Therefore HDs (which are already available and will be pocket size) with a 3.2 Gb through put seems sweet. Plus the new G4s alreay have an internal firewire port ready to use this ability. This and you can daisy chain these HDs to multiple Computers. Anyone know if USB2 or and future USBx will be able to do this?
  • Um, you're talking about the iMac, right? They dropped the (archaic) floppy, used USB for *everything*, and had networking installed in the box. The newer iMacs also have DVD, firewire/iLink, wireless networking options, and advanced power saving features until now only found in notebooks. Welcome to the next level

    -AS
  • by Xavier (4024)
    yes, when it comes to bad competition.

    Don't you think that we've seen too much good
    ideas/hardwares/softwares doomed by crappy-but-slighly-cheaper-and-better-marketed-hea vily-pushed variants?
    If Microsoft and Intel start to (and they will) tell the world how great USB2.0 is, how it will make Internet connections faster, games better, and so on, do you really think that average Joe user will tell himself "Sure, but i prefer FireWire 'cause i know it's better "

    This is not competition at all. I'm -really- fed up with lies of marketing. And afraid by the number of people who trust even the most obvious lie in an advert - i'm just thinking to the last PII campaign here in France, and how people started to sincerely think that those P had made their modem faster, their screen bigger, and their own creativity better ...

    Long live to FireWire
  • USB 2.0 is a marketing spec. It's vaporware and FUD designed as a prophylaxis to FireWire catching on.

    If they could really execute a technology to these specs, don't you think they would have done it with USB 1.0, or at least have made it much faster so 2.0 would have been incrementally closer?

    I hope nobody believes this crap - unfortunately, they will.
    Personally I think USB and FireWire can exist side-by-side as two complementing technologies. Obviously, Apple believes in this philosophy, otherwise the new iMac would not have USB and FireWire. It would have only FireWire.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • ah - no wonder IDE won out against SCSI in the long haul. More Intel bullshit.

    "The number of suckers born each minute doubles every 18 months."
  • of course, i can't use my current USB hubs, my USB cables, or USB pass thrus (essentially, built in hubs) on any of my devices...

    how exactly do you cram 480 mbps thru ports that can only support 12? Your monitor with 4 USB ports can't support USB 2.0. Your hub can't support USB 2.0. You have to buy all new hardware - including USB cables - to use USB 2.0. Your USB 1.0 devs will all have to be at the ends of your USB device tree.... If you plugged a USB 2.0 HD into your USB 1.0 hub - it will run at USB 1.0 speeds.

    USB 2.0 is only to sell more USB 2.0 chipsets and to require you to keep buying faster and faster Intel CPUs.

    get a grip. Get Firewire.


    ___
    "I know kung-fu."
  • I think the Firewire hard drives are expensive because they are not *true* Firewire drives. They are aftermarket modifications to IDE or SCSI hard drives.

    In particular one that I saw looked like a notebook computer's hard drive placed in a Firewire "wrapper". The cost is high because you are paying for the original hard drive plus the Firewire circuitry, which is going to be complex.

    Now if companies like Seagate, Western Digital, etc started making native FireWire hard drives then the price will be cheaper. In fact, I would guess that the prices would be near those for equivalent IDE hard drives.

    The Firewire electronics is a lot simpler than SCSI, requiring fewer chips which should make true Firewire drives cheaper. If you look up prices for Firewire controllers and compare to SCSI you will see a good price difference.

  • "I have nothing against USB in and of itself."

    Doesn't sound like it.

    "My concern is that Firewire already exists and as
    near as I can tell already addresses the issues
    which USB2 seems to be trying to address (as
    compared to USB1)."

    Why on earth would it make any sense at all to
    NOT improve the spec, if they can increase the
    bandwidth over the *same hardware* that is already
    out there? Why would you not improve the spec? Or
    do you think everyone will just drop their USB
    products, and install firewire?

    "I happen to dislike reinvented wheels; I would have been much happier if the USB folks had let USB do what USB does best, and let Firewire do what Firewire does best"

    It's funny that you bring that up. As far as I
    know, Apple controls firewire, and they are (or
    were) charging manufacturers to put firewire
    ports on the machines -- which is one reason why
    they aren't on a lot of machines (compared to
    USB).

    USB ports are on all the ATX motherboards now,
    and there are tons of hardware that support USB.
    It's truly plug-n-play (finally!), and fast
    enough for most devices (I've got USB digital
    speakers that are AWESOME). The only person I
    know that uses firewire is my boss, who's got a
    DV camera. I don't have any idea what speed that
    transfers at, but I do believe 480mbps should
    cover it... So while firewire might soon leap past
    USB 2.0 in terms of speed, what devices are there
    that will require it?

    As far as using firewire for networking, I just
    don't see it... wireless networking will be all
    the rage. In fact, the only competitor USB might
    have in the next few years is Bluetooth.

    -WW
  • Lets try an example. I'd like to design a USB camera I can hook up to my laptop. While the current implementations are nice, I'd like to have a higher resolution and update rate. THe device is relatively simple. The camera puts the data in a frame buffer, and the USB host controller does an ischronous transfer at a specified interval to pull the data out of the buffer.

    So why don't I just do this with firewire? The simple reason is that the hardware to have my device work on firewire is likely going to cost me over half of the total product cost. The controllers for USB devices are relatively simple, stupid devices. This makes them much less expensive. Why add the cost and complexity of peer-to-peer operation when I don't need it for the majority of the applications. Do my keyboard, mouse, or speakers really need to tell me that they have data available, or can I simpley have the host controller poll them at a predefined rate. The majority of the intelligence to the host controller. Since every computer needs a host controller, and they are less expensive in volume, the cost goes down for the consumer.

    Lets go back to the example of the camera. If I can use USB 2.0, (If and when it becomes a reality, not just a spec.) I can provide that faster frame rate and higher resolution. What will it cost me? It will be harder to get things to work at 480 Mbps. I haven't read the spec, but I wouldn't be surprised if cable specifications changed. Noise is going to be much more of a problem at thes higher data rates. There will also likely be a lot more noise of the power and ground lines for line powered devices. These are mostly development issues which won't take a good design team a long time to work out. The cabling might cost a bit more, but not much. In the end I can produce a better product, for considerabley less cost per unit than a firewire solution.

    A faster version of USB will also work well for disk drivers. Drives are by nature target devices. Your hard drive doesn't tell your CPU that it has some data it may want, your CPU requests the data. One of the reasons that Firewire drives haven't caught on is that they are expensive. Some of this expense comes form the fact that they are new, and low volume, but there is also unnecessary overhead in firewire for that purpose.

    How about digital camcorders? Does the camcorder really need to be a peer device? Not really, but it would be nice to have the higher bandidth Firewire provides, or will provide long before USB 2.0 becomes a reality.

    What might Firewire be good for? How about hot plug and play network cards, or having multiple computers talk to the same device. If you want to have a small group of computers talk to a high speed printer and an array of disks, firewire might be nich. Then again Fibre Channel is also good for this and even faster. Personally, I'd like to see USB 2.0 and Fibre Channel on PCs in the future, but I'll take what I can get.
  • so instead you're paying intel because usb will still take a cpu hit.
  • NOT Intel, Apple, or any computer company.

    1394 is already the DV interface standard, and it's showing up on more and more still cameras.

    There is no advantage for the consumer electronic companies to switch to an interface that requires a PC in the mix. Right now, I can transfer video from one camcorder to another via 1394. All I need is a *cable*. Why would I buy a camera that can't play in the 1394 world?

    USB is for keyboards, flatbed scanners, and floppy drives. Using it for high-speed, real-time work is just stupid.

    -jcr
  • Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this USB2 standard basically just reinventing firewire?
  • USB is not in itself processor intensive. I however wouldn't be surprised if Intel's implementation in their chipset is processor intensive. It depends on how much intelligence is built into the USB host controller.

    I have little doubt that Firewire will be running at 800GB before USB 2.0 arrives. 1.6GB will be difficult to get working over copper wire, especially since it has to pass FCC Class B and CE testing to be a viable product.

    USB and Firewire really aren't aimed at the same market. There is definately some overlap, but USB is supposed to be for low cost devices that don't require peer to peer communications. Firewire provides bus arbitration, so there can be multiple bus masters. This however adds to complexity and cost.
  • "I haven't read the spec, but I wouldn't be surprised if cable specifications changed."

    They haven't. USB 2.0 works should work as
    advertised over existing hardware and cables.
    Even old hardware could take advantage of the
    speed boost if their firmware is updated...

    -WW
  • by WNight (23683)
    Agreed.

    USB was a connector for low-bandwidth devices. It should have remained this way.

    And firewire and USB2.0 *are* competitors. Two similar products in one market are competing...

    I just worry that they've ruined the usefullness of USB by trying to compete instead of being happy with the niche they were in.

    Why do I say ruined? Because USB devices that are satisfied by the current standard must start to become USB2.0 or they will ruin the effectiveness of a USB2.0 system. And who wants to have their mouse, or scanner, or keyboard, get bad reviews in a magazine "Nice product, but it'll lag your whole USB setup because it's using the slower spec." So, $20 mice which are perfectly suited by the simpler logic and slower components in the current spec will become more expensive mice with completely wasted faster components.

    Why will a scanner, using 5mb/s significantly lag a connect providing 480mbit? Because the scanner, if it used the connect 50% of the time, because it's using a 10mbit maximum speed, will block a potential 240mbits of data that could have been sent during that time. So look at replacing that USB scanner before you ever consider a USB2.0 external HD, or cable modem, etc. (This is the reason you don't put your cheap CD drive on the same IDE connector as your new 7200 rpm 8ms HD...)

    So they're forcing people to either make products that defeat the purpose of the new system, or spend vastly more money making products that don't need the speed.

    It would make MUCH more sense to simply have USB and Firewire. Then our keyboards and mice of today will still function on computers 15 years down the road without hurting system performance. (This isn't unreasonable. My keyboard has an AT/XT switch on it, and was bought in 86, but it still works fine. A keyboard from now should similarly work on systems in 2012.)
  • Show me proof about the CPU time. That just depends on the host controller.

    Besides, we haven't seen any of the host controller specs for 2.0.

    It really sucks that the USB forum wants thousands of dollars for us linux-usb developers to be able to look at the specs before they make them public next year.
  • An excellent analysis of the technical differences and business maneuverings behind FireWire and USB 2.0 can be found at
    http://www.mackido.com/Hardware/USB20.html. The upshot is this: FireWire is here now, USB 2.0 is just not going to be nearly as fast, and the rationale that Apple is acting arrogantly by charging licensing is essentially a spurious argument.
    +++
  • Btw, does anyone know if it's true that Apple cancelled it's 1 dollar licensing charge for Firewire ports? (By (un)popular demand?)

    The answer is "depends on who you are". See "Apple caves in over FireWire licensing" [theregister.co.uk] in The Register [theregister.co.uk].

    The company today announced it was forming a 'patent pool' with key FireWire licensees Compaq, Sony, Matsushita/Panasonic, Philips and Toshiba. Together, the six companies will develop and implement a collective licensing programme.

    In effect, the move takes Apple's FireWire intellectual property and shares it out among the six companies ...

    I realize that Slashdotters are computer-centric, but try to remember that FireWire's current focus is on Digital TV. The American standard interconnection for digital video (between cable boxes or digital camcorders and DTV sets, for example) is OpenCable [opencable.com] HDNI, which uses FireWire as the hardware layer. With the US being forced over to DTV over the next decade, that adds up to a lot of FireWire ports.

    The $1 per port fee was never going to fly with the home electronics market, which is objecting strenuously to a "mere" 5 cent (US) per device fee for licensing the 5C copy protection system which is also part of OpenCable HDNI.

  • "because they are not *true* Firewire drives. They are aftermarket modifications to IDE or SCSI hard drives."

    This last shows a profound mis-understanding of the difference between IDE and SCSI drives. The Mechanisms are THE EXACT SAME! The only differnces are that the best of any run of a mechinism, and the newest technologies in drive production, go into the SCSI channel, where they are paired up with a SCSI controller card (SCSI bus talks to card, card talks to mechanism..).

    All you have to do is look at a SCSI drive, and a IDE drive from the same vendor and look at them. The green board on the SCSI drive is more complicated (assuming that you are looking at older drives.. newer ones have more concetrated in the ASICS). In principal you caould take a SCSI drive rip off the controller card, and put on a IDE card. The same is genericly true for FireWire.

    Now there is one differnce will all the FireWire drives that I have had to play with, they are all designed to be very rugged, and portable. That means that they are based on the same mechanisms used for laptop drives. This means they have sacraficed some speed, and a lot of cost, in order to be more rugged, and to be smaller (lower power too...). You can shake that VST drives all you want, while they are reading data, and they still keep rigth no going.. try that with a desktop drive!
  • >Why would you not improve the spec? Or
    do you think everyone will just drop their USB
    products, and install firewire?

    If you'll go back and read the post to which you were reacting, I was suggesting exactly the opposite, i.e. that USB and Firewire can and should coexist, serving different needs.

    Improving USB isn't free. For a start, developing a standard like this consumes a lot of time for a lot of people who could almost certainly be applying their considerable intellectual talents to problems that have not already been solved. Secondly, as another poster pointed out, all sorts of incompatibilities and gotchas tend to creep in when you have multiple versions of a standard. Deploying USB2 in a USB1 world is not a whole heck of a lot less troublesome than deploying Firewire in a USB1 world. I could go on, but those reasons alone seem more than sufficient for now.

    >So while firewire might soon leap past
    USB 2.0 in terms of speed, what devices are there
    that will require it?

    Perhaps no single device will, but assuming that the whole world is a point-to-point topology without any shared communications resources (either media themselves or hubs and their cousins) is a classic mistake. It's not hard at all to think of a configuration where the aggregate bandwith required by all attached devices is greater than either 400Mbps, and therein lies the utility of a faster interconnect.
  • Since IEEE 1394 is alread spec'd to 1.2 Gb you should make that clear in the top level story. The story as it reads is misleading to the point of compromised journalist integrity.
  • > "The big drawback is that USB actually uses CPU
    > horsepower and some people are just not happy
    > with that. This is why people push IEEE 1394
    > (Firewire) so much. It has high bandwidth but
    > doesn't eat up the processing power that
    > USB does."

    This is absolutely not correct. The USB host controller is using PCI bus-mastering for all transactions based on transaction lists set up by the host. Everything is optimized for minimum CPU impact. Actually, its architecture is very similar to a 1394 host controller. The CPU impact of a USB serial port can be two orders of magnitude lower than an ISA serial port (up to a microsecond per access!)

    The source of this error is probably because of USB audio - the audio device is just a fixed rate DAC and all mixing and sample rate conversion for DirectSound, MIDI synthesis, etc is currently done by the host CPU. You will get exactly the same performance with 1394 since it will use the same WDM audio stack and just replace the minidriver at the bottom.

    You are correct about Intel always wanting to use more CPU power. A fast bus like USB2 will allow cheap dumb peripherals while doing all the processing on the host. For example, you could have an ADSL modem which is nothing more than a fast A/D and D/A and do all the modulation and error correction coding on the host.

    BTW, the USB 2.0 will be on the CPU local bus, not on PCI since PCI isn't fast enough...
  • >The simple reason is that the hardware to have my device work on firewire is likely going to cost me over half of the total product cost

    This seems like a gross exaggeration. In this age of ASICs, Firewire is not inherently more costly to implement than USB2. The only reason this might appear otherwise is because "USB is already the motherboard" and that's purely a matter of what standard Intel is behind. I'm sorry, but I like to make my choices based on technological advantages rather than Intel marketing muscle.

    >Do my keyboard, mouse, or speakers really need to tell me that they have data available, or can I simpley have the host controller poll them at a predefined rate

    Polling? Well...yuk. That's all there is to say about that.

    >Drives are by nature target devices. Your hard drive doesn't tell your CPU that it has some data it may want, your CPU requests the data.

    Actually, many problems in my professional life could be solved a lot more cleanly if SCSI disk-drive and host-adapter vendors supported AEN. While it's true that disks are mostly passive targets, allowing them to act as initiators occasionally - even if only to report error conditions instead of tossing them into the sense data the next time someone happens to issue a command - could be a big win.

    >One of the reasons that Firewire drives haven't caught on is that they are expensive. Some of this expense comes form the fact that they are new, and low volume, but there is also unnecessary overhead in firewire for that purpose.

    Actually, I'd say the cost is almost entirely because Firewire is new and hence low-volume. SCSI is a fairly complex protocol too, but because it's high-volume implementations are cheap.

    >What might Firewire be good for? How about hot plug and play network cards, or having multiple computers talk to the same device.

    Shared devices, once the sole province of the high-end enterprise, are moving more and more into the low end. Before long SANs will be commonplace, and at that point a solution that supports them (e.g. Firewire, FC) will have very obvious advantages over one that doesn't (e.g. USB).

    >Then again Fibre Channel is also good for this and even faster.

    FC is an ugly set of standards, repeating every mistake people should have learned to avoid from previous high-speed-interconnect standards attempts. Yech. Yes, it has high speed, and it has lots of connectivity options and blah blah blah, but all done in such a screamingly inelegant way that it almost doesn't seem worth it.
  • If I remember right, Intel planned to go with
    FireWire, but the large cost (due to Apple's insistance on large royalties) jacked up the price of the motherboard chipsets enough that the motherboard manufactures told Intel "no way".
    Even $5 is a huge add-on cost to this market, and if I rememer, FireWire was going to add at least double that.

  • Apple is willing to sacrifice backward-compatibility and make some really pretty logical choices in their hardware.

    As much as I've disliked MacOS in the past, Apple has done an excellent job making hardware decisions.

    It's funny. Five years ago I never would have thought I'd be supporting Apple, but you have to admit they've gotten their act together.
  • 1394's roadmap shows that in a few years it will be faster then AGP 2x busses.

    Intel hates 1394 because unlike USB, 1394 does not require a computer as a host. 1394 can be a universal connector between everything in your home. Simply plug your 1394 wire between your Digital VCR, TV, and Amp, and enjoy the lack of clutter behind your TV. Then connect the Digital VCR to your laptop, and enjoy what you recorded on a flight. The only possible part Intel would have is the laptop if it used an Intel CPU.

    Personally, I hope 1394 is adopted more. It's now a requirement for any new equipment I buy. My new laptop from Gateway has a 1394 port, and I will be ordering a Sony 1394 CD/RW drive soon. After that, I will be looking into a 1394 HDTV, and more.

    -----
  • Sony is hard core on IEEE 1394 (PSX2 will have Firewire ports)

    They've also put Firewire ports on their high-end VAIO laptops (my VAIO F-270 has a 1394 port, as well as USB... not that I've used either). If they're sticking them on laptops, they're probably on their VAIO desktops too.

    You can also get PCI Firewire cards for not-mucho-dinero, though I suspect they're slower than an on-motherboard solution.
  • I've heard tell about some sort of IO standard that Intel's been pushing of late that supposedly 'replaces all current bus technology'. Anybody know more about this?

    I personally am looking forward to hearing more about Jini, which is Sun's initiative to do to hardware what Java is doing to software.

    Basically, they move the device abstraction out of the OS driver and into the device itself. So you basically plug a Jini-enabled device into the network, and it immediately registers itself and makes its services available to other devices on the network.

    No OS-specific drivers, no kludges/workarounds. Things just "work".

    http:/www.sun.com/jini/ [sun.com]
  • > Wasn't apple supposed to be one of the great
    > inspirations and lead member of this group?
    > Why are they absent now?

    No, they were just the first to fully implement it, because they didn't have to wait for Microsoft to halfway support it, and they were able to realize many more benefits from it because they replaced two, older, slower ports.

    > This is silly splitting off support to too many
    > different standards

    Firewire and USB are very different. USB is for (slow) keyboards, pointing devices and printers while Firewire is for (high-speed) digital camcorders and hard drives and such. You don't want your digital camcorder sharing a bus with your keyboard. They have different needs. Also, Firewire devices have to have brains so that you can control a Firewire camcorder from a Firewire computer without having to tell the computer what kind of camcorder you're using. A keyboard or mouse may not benefit from that because they're pretty cheap and generic, but hard drives and tape drives that don't need special drivers and can backup each other without using a computer's CPU are very cool.

    Also, Firewire is an ISO standard and USB is not. Makes it a safer bet for the future.
  • I think the main point is that USB devices require a PC (which often has Intel inside) and Firewire devices don't. Firewire is working right now anywhere there's digital video involved, and this only involves a PC when it's logical to involve one (say, for editing). Intel would like to see USB 2.0 in there so that a PC is always involved.

    Firewire will be at 800Mbs by the time USB is at 400 (if it gets there), but the big advantage of Firewire is its decentralization.
  • From the IGN article (http://pc.ign.com/news/11159.html):

    "USB 2.0 will be 40 times faster than the already-blazing USB 1.1, running at 480 Megabits per second. By comparison, current FireWire (IEEE-1394) runs at up to 400 Megabits, though a faster version of the technology is expected next year."

    From The press release (http://www.usb.org/press/pressroom/backgrounder.h tml):

    "USB 2.0 will extend the capabilities of the interface from 12 Mbps, which is available on USB 1.1, to between 120-240 Mbps on USB 2.0, providing a connection point for next-generation peripherals which complement higher performance PCs."

    Seems to me that they are stating 120-140Mbps in the press release and 480Mbps in the IGN article.

    Which one is correct?

    120-140Mbps is certainly not faster than firewire...

  • by Salamander (33735) <`jeff' `at' `pl.atyp.us'> on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @03:38AM (#1617357) Homepage Journal
    Just a few observations/questions regarding comparisons with Firewire.
    1. The usb.org article only claims "120-240Mbps". It's not clear where the ign.com article came up with 480Mbps.
    2. Even if USB2 runs at 480Mbps, the Firewire folks aren't exactly standing still. Any raw bandwidth advantage of USB2 is sure to be short-lived at best.
    3. There's lots of blather in the USB2 announcement about supporting video cameras etc. but IIRC USB doesn't support the isochronous transfers which are usually considered necessary to serve those markets. Did I miss something?
    4. Another useful Firewire feature that USB doesn't seem to have is providing power through the same connector used for communications. Again, I may have missed it.
    5. I don't remember how many devices USB supports, but I suspect it's less than Firewire.
    6. I know that USB-based host-to-host networking exists, but it's not clear to me whether it's really as well suited to that task as Firewire. In particular, I wonder how much asymmetry between hosts and devices (a la initiators and targets in SCSI) is built into the protocol, and how round-trip latency compares to other technologies.
    7. Similarly, I'd like seeing a comparison of how automagically reconfiguration happens when devices are added or removed using each technology.

    With any luck, someone more clueful can fill in the blanks above.


    Overall, Firewire still looks like a generally superior technology in its niche, while the USB folks should have been content with their own separate niche (lower-bandwidth peripherals such as keyboards, mice, joysticks and modems that don't need advanced features such as isochronous transfers).


    BTW, I don't actually use Firewire and have no interest beyond the aesthetic in promoting it. My employer is thoroughly committed to (ick) FC.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    As an employee of Intel I have seen first hand the desire to kill Firewire. Part of it is the licensing fee the other is to make the processor be so damn important that they can sell more and more. Don't get me wrong, Intel is all for new technologies... but only if they have their fingers in the pie as well.
  • Ican help you out there - it *is* a move from Intel.

    The difference between firewire and USB is sorta like the diffence between the SCSI and IDE interfaces for harddisk etc.

    Silvino Orozco from Toms hardware gives a nice explanation:

    "The big drawback is that USB actually uses CPU horsepower and some people are just not happy with that. This is why people push IEEE 1394 (Firewire) so much. It has high bandwidth but doesn't eat up the processing power that USB does."

    Here is the link:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/editorial/99q3/99091 0/idf-99-01.html

    Intel is of course not happy to see more things being moved away from the CPU (NVIDIA's new GeFORCE256 GPU is another example) - Intel pushes everything that demands a lot of CPU-power, and I bet that pushing that much data over a connection as USB2 is supporting, is going to use a lot of CPU-cycles...

    That's why I hope that firewire will catch on - maybe the Playstation2 (which AFAIK uses firewire) will give firewire a nice boost - I hope it does...

  • It appears to me that we may be seeing a certain hierarchy of industry bus standards emerging - USB for the low-level consumer stuff, 1394 for the more specialist stuff (but still on workstations), and Fibre Channel for the real high-end stuff.

    Obviously, USB and Firewire are being aimed at the PC market, but I wonder if they'll end up getting adopted by Unix workstation manufacturers like Sun, SGI, etc.

    Also, I'll be interested in seeing whether anything arises to mount a serious challenge to PCI, which appears to have managed to defeat SBus, seeing as how Sun's workstation-level machines are all PCI-based now.

    Does anyone else think that the current standard PC design is hopelessly outdated, and that it may be time for industry to move forward and develop a new architecture to take advantage of new technologies, architectures and developments, like the Internet?

    Or is this idea too close to the NC for comfort? :-)

    D.
    ..is for .com

  • Well, if this is intended to kill Firewire then that would be ironic since it's basicly Apple fault that USB has some success anyway.. Untill the iMac USB was not really taking off.

    Infact, AFAIK, in the PC landscape there is still a very low demand for USB perif's relative to serial and scsi devices.

    The main question is if Motherboard makers in the PC arena will continue to exclude Firewire ports for PCs (likly since intel mostly has controll over the chip sets), when media machines are alwredy adopting it (digital video now, and music instruments within the next year).

    I think the battle is still open, USB 2 does have a chance to overthrow firewire, but to do this intel has to move fast. And intel has to convice the periferal makers to adopt USB2 instead of firewire - which might be dificult since those makers were burned in the past with USB slow adoption rate.

    which ever standard actualy wins is hard to know, but It's going to be interesting watching the war. get your beer and nacho's ready..
    --------------------------------
  • MacKiDo [mackido.com] (reprinting a Mac Weekly Journal article) had an article weighing USB vs. Firewire [mackido.com] last March that lists the advantages of 1394 over USB 2.0.
  • The USB implementation in Intel Chipsets may be more CPU intensive than a bus mastering PCI firewire card, but I don't think this isn't an inherant aspect of USB. The main difference between USB and Firewire, other than bandwidth, is that on USB the host controller is the only node on the bus which can initiate a data transfer. If the USB host controller wants data from a device on the bus it must send a request to that device to which that device responds. When a new device is connected on the bus, the host has to inquire what resourses it's needs (how much reserved bandwidth, how often to poll it).
    This does not mean that the computer's CPU has to poll the devices. The host controller could poll the devices, DMA the data, and interrupt the CPU to let it know that an opperation has completed.

    Firewire is different in that any of the devices on the bus may be a bus master. The devices have to arbitrate for bandwidth, and each device requires more intelligent hardware. The result of this is that Firewire devices will likley cost more to develop.

    This leaves us with the impression that we can use USB for lower end devices, and use Firewire for higher end devices, especially where there is an advantage to having multiple bus masters.

    On the high end, at least for disk drives and networking, Fibre Channel is another option. This is where high end storage applications appear to be headed. Firewire still has the advantage of providing for ischronous transfers, while Fibre Channel doesn't, but Fibre Channel runs at 1 Gbps with 2 Gbps versions starting to appear.
  • by Andreas Bombe (7266) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @10:32AM (#1617367)
    There is the GNU/Lunix IEEE 1394 Subsystem, but does anyone know how well this works/had experience with using it or knows if it will be included in the kernel sometime?

    Current IEEE 1394 developer and maintainer, at your service :-)

    It works with asynchronous transfers. I'm currently working on updating the userspace raw1394/libraw interface. When I'm done I'll try to get it into Linux 2.3 again (even though it's in feature freeze, but this subsystem does not affect any other code in the kernel).

    Isochronous transmissions are not yet supported and I know that this is important for the people who want to get pictures from their cameras. At least isochronous receiving should not be too hard to implement, that is around next on my todo list.

    As for the supported hardware: AIC5800 (out of production AFAIK), PCILynx (hard to come by, obsolete), OHCI (the standard of the future, implemented in hardware by various chip manufacturers). A Sony chip also exists (e.g. in the Vaio laptops), but is not yet supported. My OHCI card (donated by ADS Technologies) for some reason doesn't work, but I'm concentrating on PCILynx for the time being.

  • Here are the definitions directly from Webster:

    Serial: relating to or being a connection in a computer system in which the bits of a byte are transmitted sequentially over a single wire

    Bus: a set of parallel conductors in a computer system that forms a main transmission path

    Does anyone else have problems with this? Every time I think about a serial bus I think my brain is going to implode.
    -
  • Of course they should coexist and they still can. Now, certain devices which worked poorly on USB 1.x (CDR, scanners, HD, Zip drives) can now work well; and firewire will still remain (especially when the speed is increased to 800Mbit to 3.2Gbit) the choice method of connecting to DV equip, higher performance hard drives, and the Playstation II of course . . . There's room for both and I'm happy that both are evolving to suit customers' needs. There's never too much speed to run a mouse, keyboard or whatever devices currently work on USB 1.
  • by gig (78408)
    >> There's lots of blather in the USB2 announcement
    >> about supporting video cameras etc. but IIRC USB >> doesn't support the isochronous transfers which
    >> are usually considered necessary to serve those
    >> markets. Did I miss something?
    > This was in USB1. I can't imagine
    > they got rid of it!

    Don't most USB devices talk to the computer at a slower speed than it talks to them? That upstream/downstream stuff? The big issue for video stuff is that with Firewire, camera can talk to VCR equally, with USB, everything talks to the computer.

    > USB1 technically supported 127 devices, but I
    > think you would have been crazy to actually
    > try to use more than 3 at once. Don't know
    > about firewire.

    Firewire can do 64 right now, but the key is that they daisy chain, so you just need one cable per device. 64 USB devices would require a huge number of hubs, and the USB bus is too slow for this.
  • "because they are not *true* Firewire drives. They are aftermarket modifications to IDE or SCSI hard drives."

    "This last shows a profound mis-understanding of the difference between IDE and SCSI drives"

    You misread the statement. current IEE1394 drives are complete IDE or SCSI drives with an IDE<->IEEE1394 or a SCSI<->IEEE1394 adapters. Yes the platters on all drives are the same, but the electronics are different. Soon there will be no need for the adapters, IEEE1394 will interface directly to the drive Mechanism.
  • Hm, Intel is still trying. However, Texas Instruments (major implementor of 1394 chips) expects them to give up soon (end of this or next year) or be given up by hardware vendors. The move is to include 1394 on motherboards soon, USB 2.0 is vaporware.

    As for the speeds: 1394 does 400Mbps now (you can buy slower chips, but they are more expensive and harder to come by because they are only still in production for US military use). USB 2.0 is said to have little more than 400Mbps sometime in the future. Given the technology it is also in doubt if they ever reach that.

    Future 1394 (IEEE 1394.b) is in draft and partly implemented in experimental hardware. 1394.b specifies 100Mbps on 50 meter UTP5 cables, 3200Mbps on 100 meter optical cables or 4.5 meter conventional cables. It is interoperable with 1394.a, whereas USB 2.0 will be incompatible with USB 1 (AFAIK, I'm not sure). By the time 1394.b is in silicon with 3.2Gbps, USB 2.0 will probably just have reached 480 Mbps...

    One killer application for 1394 are the video cameras of which more and more come with a 1394 port (aka i.Link on Sony devices). 1394 is very nice for that. You can plug your camera into a 1394 VCR and copy your material over or display them on a 1394 digital TV (in theory, I don't think there are many 1394 VCRs and TVs out there already). This is something USB just cannot do. Yes, it could in theory, but USB is PC centric. It requires a PC and moves all data through your PC. No possibility just to connect a digital VCR to a digital TV. You'd need a PC and a program running on the PC to copy the data. There is simply NO WAY that USB 2.0 would make it into video cameras or similar devices.

    So 1394 would have to be supported in a multimedia environment anyway. When you have 1394 why bother with USB 2.0, which would do the same as 1394 only not as good?

    USB 1 sure has its place in PC environments (it would be quite overkill to connect your mouse or keyboard through 1394). But trying to push some variant of USB as a competitor for 1394 is just silly, it's just that Intel wants the market share.

    Also, for the FireWire "tax" by Apple, yes, some sort of it is still in effect. Chip vendors have to pay $.50 license fee per 1394 device (device, not port) to Apple, but that 50 cents won't bring it down.

    And 1394 doesn't need those silly hubs.
  • by gig (78408)
    > So god damn fragging what? You got a problem
    > with competition?

    Intel is the biggest of the companies that signed on to support Firewire when Apple released it as an ISO standard. Standards are important when the technology's sole purpose is INTEROPERABILITY. Now that there are millions of Firewire devices and lots of investment by lots of people, they are trying to jump ship to something that is an Intel standard, not an ISO standard, and is not even technically equivalent, let alone better.

    Also, competition would only be possible if USB 2.0 actually existed.
  • I gotta warn anyone who isn't familiar with it that MacKiDo will make anyone who looks at it who isn't a die-hard Mac fanatic very very angry. It's not exactly a bastion of fair, unbiased reporting.

    And I say this as a semi-die-hard Mac guy. It's nice to have a propaganda outlet or two to combat the spread of M$/Chipzilla FUD, but sometimes I think they go a little too far.
  • I just got the latest copy of Wired, and they had a photo of a Replay TV with it's lid off...and it even has two Firewire ports in it.

    Here is a little article about Firewire vs. USB 2.0, for what it's worth.

    http://www.mackido.com/Hardware/USB20.html
  • by dan g (30777)
    Disclaimer: all of my knowledge is about USB1.0, but I would think that they only improved on these numbers for the latest version. That said,

    2. Even if USB2 runs at 480Mbps, the Firewire folks aren't exactly standing still. Any raw bandwidth advantage of USB2 is sure to be
    short-lived at best.

    Especially if USB2 repeats 1.0's feat of only 75% of bandwidth being used for actual data in an ideal situation. (don't know how 1.1 performed).


    3 .There's lots of blather in the USB2 announcement about supporting video cameras etc. but IIRC USB doesn't support the isochronous
    transfers which are usually considered necessary to serve those markets. Did I miss something?

    This was in USB1. I can't imagine they got rid of it!


    4. Another useful Firewire feature that USB doesn't seem to have is providing power through the same connector used for communications.
    Again, I may have missed it.

    Again, USB1 had this, but only for low power devices (2.5W?).



    5.I don't remember how many devices USB supports, but I suspect it's less than Firewire.

    USB1 technically supported 127 devices, but I think you would have been crazy to actually try to use more than 3 at once. Don't know about firewire.


    6.I know that USB-based host-to-host networking exists, but it's not clear to me whether it's really as well suited to that task as Firewire. In
    particular, I wonder how much asymmetry between hosts and devices (a la initiators and targets in SCSI) is built into the protocol, and how
    round-trip latency compares to other technologies.

    I always thought that USB was horribly suited to networking, but there seemed to be a lot of people who wanted to do it. So some companies built devices for it. As far as I know, the only solution was to have a hub that all of the network clients would plug into. I never used one or talked to anyone that did, but I would think that for 2 clients the performace was pretty mediocre and for more, abysmal.

    Maybe someone can read the new spec an enlighten us. I hope for their sake that it is better written than the first! That was one of the most obfuscating technical specs i've ever read.

    dan
  • IEEE 1394 will still have the advantage over USB 2.0 in that USB is a computer-centric bus; that is, it requires that a PC or workstation be on the bus. With firewire, you can connect devices together and have them communicate directly, no PC required.

    If the world is going towards the obliteration of that big box on your desk and the adoption of embedded devices (it's imminent...don't think that it's not happening), Intel's USB 2.0 doesn't make sense.

    Firewire has also been spec'd out to 1.2Gb/s. It's only a matter of time before implementable technology catches up...

  • With regard to SBus vs. PCI, keep in mind that SBus is a very dated technology compared to PCI. It is only a 25mhz bus w/ a max. theoretical throughput of 200 Mb/s, with actual being much lower, as compared to PCI, which is already at 100Mhz speeds with a max throughput of over 500 Mb/s.

    I think one of the reasons Sun stuck with SBus so long (and continues to in some of its Enterprise level servers, notably the 4x00 models) is because of SBus's small footprint, which works nicely with the system tray design Sun has been using in its machines for years now.

    As for USB vs. Firewire, USB seems to be turning into Yet Another Processor Hog, which will forever keep the technology in the PC realm. I could personally see firewire move into the upper echelons of server technology once it's become more proven in the industry, though.

    I've heard tell about some sort of IO standard that Intel's been pushing of late that supposedly 'replaces all current bus technology'. Anybody know more about this?
  • >4.Another useful Firewire feature that USB doesn't seem to have is providing power through the same connector used for communications. Again, I may have missed it.

    As far as I know it DOES provide power on the same cable. (But no great amount so if your device requires a lot of current, it will still need to get its power from an external source)

    >5.I don't remember how many devices USB supports, but I suspect it's less than Firewire.

    I don't know about Firewire but theoretically USB is meant to support up to 127 devices. I have read a report in the German c't magazine [heise.de] once where it stated that Intel had managed to connect 123 devices to it (mainly mice, keyboards and USB hubs)

    Personally I do not use either USB nor Firewire (occasionally installed some USB devices for others though) because I do not have any device that would support them. On the long run I think hardware manufacturers will make the decision on what to use, simply by making their products work with one defined standard. (For me it's difficult to forsee which one that will be but maybe some insiders know more about this ;)

    Disclaimer: This is all AFAIK. Correct me where appropriate.
  • From the IEEE Trade Associations FAQ

    "1394.b is a significant enhancement to the basic 1394 specification that enables speed increases to 3.2 Gigabits/sec., supports distances of 100 meters on UTP and optical fiber, and reduces latency times to well under the 125 microseconds now provided under the spec. 1394.b, which is an important step forward in simplifying the link between PC products and CE systems over 1394, will be completed and ready for ballot by midsummer 1999"

    When are Intel going to stop flogging this dead horse. USB 2.0 by mid 2000? Sounds just about the right timing to be smacked down by Firewire 2.0.
    There are a lot of consumer electronics giants hustling to put out current and future technologies incorporating the IEEE 1394 standard, these guys have the sort of market penetration that Intel can only dream about.
  • So, Linux has native USB support in the kernel. Is there a plan to implement the "obviously superior" IEEE 1394 anytime soon? ;)

    There is the GNU/Lunix IEEE 1394 Subsystem [uni-klu.ac.at], but does anyone know how well this works/had experience with using it or knows if it will be included in the kernel sometime?

  • I find it humorous, but sad, that anything that is difficult to impelement on Linux (USB is also difficult to implement on NT) is denegrated and characterized as "not even used."

    I have a USB Scanner, and USB speakers on one of my systems. They work great! It was a glorious day when I could yank the SCSI card and the Sound card out of that system. Now I want to get a current laptop so I can plug the scanner into it and use it as a portable document acquisition system. (bring it into the Library and scan the text I want directly into Acrobat files on the hard drive).

    USB is slowly maturing. The iMac has helped in that regard some, but also the adoption of Windows 98. And when Windows 2000 comes out the floodgates will be opened.

    I haven't experimented with USB on NetBSD but probably should do so soon. One of my NetBSD boxes has the USB port, I just need to get adventurous enough to try it.
  • by gig (78408)
    > It's funny that you bring that up. As far as I
    > know, Apple controls firewire

    IEEE 1394 is an international standard. It is not controlled by any one company.

    > So while firewire might soon leap past
    > USB 2.0 in terms of speed

    USB is 12Mbs and Firewire is 400Mbs right now, so I think USB will have to "leap past" Firewire before we wonder whether Firewire will soon "leap past" the published specs for a proposed future version of USB.

    > what devices are there that will
    > require it [IEEE 1394]?

    IEEE 1394 devices will outnumber USB 2.0 devices both in variety and shipping numbers for at least two years, even if everything goes exactly to Intel's plans. And even then, USB is very computer-centric at a time when people are talking about home networks. Why exclude the set-top box or DVD player from the network? 1394 has an almost 10 million device head start right now, and it's just getting to that point where economies of scale are really kicking in.

    Apple sold 250,000 iMac DV's (w/ 1394) just last week ...
  • you said:
    Scanners, speaker systems (which function without needing a sound card), modems, mice and keyboards. Digital cameras too

    Well, all those items (with the exception of the speakers) had to be used via USB on the iMac's, they didn't exist solely for Win98 as you make it sound, so I don't quite see your point. I know very few Windows users who have USB devices, and the ones that do mostly have mice. I have one friend who has a USB QuickCam, but that's his only peripheral, and USB was not a deciding factor in the purchase. I own a scanner, a digital camera, a couple mice, a keyboard, a joystick, and a quickcam for my iMac, and while that's a really really small sample group, I think you see my point. I have several x86 mobo's with pinouts for USB connectors, but they'll never get used, and it looks to be the same situation with my friends.

    I think a big factor keeping USB from being really ubiquitous is that vendors still ship thier computers with PS/2 Mice and Keyboards. Insignificant as that may seem, most "users" don't know what the heck the USB ports are, simply having a couple things to plug in to it would raise awareness a lot, I think. A user-friend of mine thought they were ethernet.... :)
  • by Phil-14 (1277)

    "As far as I know, Apple controls firewire..." hmm, don't know much, do you? Multiple companies have patents on the firewire technologies, and they have formed a patent pool to encourage development of the technology. Licensing costs are per computer. I can bash Apple with the best of them, but I try to stick to when they deserve it, rather than jumping on every little bit of Intel fud.


    For more information, try www.ieee1394.org.

  • USB1 technically supported 127 devices, but I think you would have been crazy to actually try to use more than 3 at once.

    I read somewhere that a couple of drunk Apple engineers actually did connect 127 USB devices to an iMac. This is serious by the way.

    Also if nobody's linked to it already, http://www.mackido.com/Hardware/USB20.html [mackido.com] is a great reference about this issue.

  • by kroah (751)
    Thank you for identifying your vested interest. That's all too rare around here.
    No problem.

    In other words: yes, Firewire will over the long term retain a significant raw-bandwidth advantage despite very short-term leapfrogging.
    Correct. Firewire will probably always be faster. And it deserves to be that way. The USB group is only starting to work on the issues of higher speeds that Firewire solved a long time ago.

    My question is: what speed issues did people have that would not have been adequately addressed by implementing both USB and Firewire? As many people including yourself have pointed out, there are still and will always be important differences between the two, and "one size fits all" is more often than not a lousy philosophy in computing.
    I don't know. I think that this is more a political issue rather than a technical one.

    I have nothing against USB in and of itself. My concern is that Firewire already exists and as near as I can tell already addresses the issues which USB2 seems to be trying to address (as compared to USB1). I happen to dislike reinvented wheels; I would have been much happier if the USB folks had let USB do what USB does best, and let Firewire do what Firewire does best, and go off to do other more useful things with their time. Competition is great, but there's plenty in both technical areas already. Pushing USB into the Firewire "problem space" is just an attempt by Intel to squash competition in the high-speed interconnect market by leveraging their position as the largest PC chipset manufacturer.
    I agree.



    It seems that Intel and other manufacturers are a little pissed about the licensing fees that go along with Firewire. So they bumped USB up to take care of the speed issues that were remaining with some devices (audio, mass storage, video). Now Intel can just implemement one chip on it's motherboards, and not have to worry about having to licensing money to anyone else.



    I am remaining real sceptable. The rollout plan for operating system support, and silicon support is VERY aggressive. The hub model is VERY complex. True USB 2.0 support in both devices and hosts will be a number of years in the future.

    Now does anyone have any ideas of what just happened to Device Bay (USB & Firewire working together)???
  • I'll try to answer as many questions as best I can:

    The usb.org article only claims "120-240Mbps". It's not clear where the ign.com article came up with 480Mbps.

    I may be mistaken, but I think that the pressrelease might be out of date. The figure of 480Mb/s was mentioned in an article linked off of slashdot a few weeks ago.

    Even if USB2 runs at 480Mbps, the Firewire folks aren't exactly standing still. Any raw bandwidth advantage of USB2 is sure to be short-lived at best.

    Yes. As they mentioned, a new firewire running at 800Mb/s is just around the corner. There is also plans for a 1600Mb/s firewire in the not too distant future.

    Another useful Firewire feature that USB doesn't seem to have is providing power through the same connector used for communications. Again, I may have missed it.

    USB supplys power at the moment. As far as I know, this is the case with USB 2.0 too.

    I don't remember how many devices USB supports, but I suspect it's less than Firewire.

    USB can handle up to 128 devices, Firewire can handle 64. Of course, no one will ever need 128 devices and 64 will be beyond most peoples' needs anyway. I would be supprised if _anyone_ needed more than the 16 provided by wide (I think) SCSI, and the great thing about USB and Firewire, is that they are hotplugable, so if you need to plug in an extra device, you can just unplug one of the unneccessary ones.
    The main difference between the way that USB works and firewire works, is that Firewire is daisy chained, and USB uses hubs. a subtle, but important difference.

    I know that USB-based host-to-host networking exists, but it's not clear to me whether it's really as well suited to that task as Firewire. In particular, I wonder how much asymmetry between hosts and devices (a la initiators and targets in SCSI) is built into the protocol, and how round-trip latency compares to other technologies.

    USB is not peer to peer like firewire. It is designed so the computer handles the traffic. This is more consistent with USB's original use for connecting perifirals. With 800Mb/s firewire comming soon, there have been suggestions of using firewire instead of ethernet as it would be faster than gigabit ethernet, and much easier to set up, and keep going.
  • by jutus (14595) on Wednesday October 13, 1999 @04:36AM (#1617407) Homepage
    The USB 2.0 specs are indeed respectable. Think of all the irq's you wil save. But it won't eclipse firewire anytime soon.

    Right now 400 Mbps is not a bottle neck for most consumer end hard drive setups. Firewire and Sony's iLink (both IEE1394) are being pushed in the DV realm, where this fat a pipe is really needed.

    On an earlier post, someone speculated that Firewire supports more devices than USB. It does not. The USB 1.0 supports up to 128 devices (which, ironically, was proven true by Apple's employee's during in a bier-garten, not by Intel employees), whereas Firewire supports 63 in it's current incarnation. But if USB 2.0 does support it's 480 Mbps claimed speed, one doubts that it will be able to support 128 devices.

    There are Firewire port prototypes at 800 Mbps (this is due out next year), and the 1600 Mbps versions are in the works. In any case, more development has been done on 1600 Mbps Firewire than USB 2.0.

    Everything seems to point to Intel launching a FUD war against IEEE 1394 technology. I suppose announcing a product months ahead(or perhaps years in this case) is typical of any large corporation, but there are other indices. 480Mbps is a minimal improvement over Firewire 1.0's 400 Mbps, but just enough to convince consumers and vendors. And, as speculated by SuperScan, USB 2.0, like USB will utilize CPU power to get by, whereas Firewire delegates this task to the Firewire controller.

    Firewire is a part of the "PC2000" standard that was proposed by Intel and Microsoft. Maybe Intel wants to revise that proposal.

    Recall that Firewire is not solely an Apple technology. Sony is hard core on IEEE 1394 (PSX2 will have Firewire ports), as well as others. If intel wants to dominate all bands of the peripheral device spectrum with USB + USB 2.0, they're going to meet some stiff resistance.

    This kind of move just shows how intent Intel is on being the MS of the hardware world. By selling a CPU reliant standard, they get to dip in your wallet twice.

    Btw, does anyone know if it's true that Apple cancelled it's 1 dollar licensing charge for Firewire ports? (By (un)popular demand?)

  • With regard to SBus vs. PCI, keep in mind that SBus is a very dated technology compared to PCI.

    In addition to the limitations you've mentioned, I'd like to add the fact that it's a circuit switched bus, while PCI is packet switched.

    How about the UPA bus, though - 2.75 GBytes/second on *500 servers... :-)

    I think one of the reasons Sun stuck with SBus so long (and continues to in some of its Enterprise level servers, notably the 4x00 models) is because of SBus's small footprint, which works nicely with the system tray design Sun has been using in its machines for years now.

    I don't disagree, but I think that another important factor may have been the fact that there is a huge SBUs userbase out there. To drop SBus completely would leave a lot of people pretty pissed off.

    I've heard tell about some sort of IO standard that Intel's been pushing of late that supposedly 'replaces all current bus technology'.

    This wouldn't be the Dual Independent Bus [intel.com], by any chance? This is a slight alteration to your traditional cache/bus architecture, which was first introduced on the Pentium Pro. Given the level to which systems caches can affect system performance, it's possible that Intel's PR & Marketing guys got a bit carried away. :-)

    On the other hand, I could be completely wrong, in which case, I'd like to hear about this wonderful new bus as well!

    D.
    ..is for D-man!

  • Actually USB didn't take off because of the Imac, it just happens that USB components became widely available just around the same time.

    What everyone is missing is that USBs ultimate success is that it is CHEAP. Cheap to include in a part like a Motherboard, cheap to interface to, cheap all around. Printers are an example, centronix parallel ports are becoming a thing of the past even though with ECP/EPP they can easily compete in speed with USB. The reason is mainly that the parallel port is much more expensive then the USB port when you make millions of them. A parallel port requires line drivers, buffers, watching lines and general hardware handshaking that cost a bit to roll into a mass market product. While USB requires a single chip that can be had for well under a dollar.

    Now if USB goes to something much higher then a few dozen Mbps then I think its only advantage will fly out the window. There is no technology today to make 100Mbps connections between machines, on cheap cable, for under a dollar. That is probably still five to seven years out. You can see this in IEEE 1394 (firewire for non IEEE members:-), where the cost of including that hardware to interface to it is well above $10. That's why we see USB on a $49.99 motherboard, but not IEEE 1394.

    For a historical perspective of what is probably going to happen look at HP-IB/GP-IB/IEEE-488. I think firewire is going to go the same route. An excellent interconnect mechanism in its day that was to expensive for general use, but rocked in its niche.

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