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12.22.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
What is ... IEEE 1394?

IEEE 1394 is a multimedia connection that enables simple, low-cost, high-bandwidth isochronous (real-time) data interfacing between computers, peripherals and consumer electronics products such as camcorders, VCRs, printers, PCs, TVs and digital cameras. With IEEE 1394-compatible products and systems, users can transfer video or still images from a camera or camcorder to a printer, PC or television, with no image degradation. It's a standard used by many components in today's media asset management systems.

Apple Computer, which conceived the technology in 1986, calls it "Firewire." Sony calls it "i.LINK." But geeks call it by its official name, IEEE 1394. The IEEE (pronounced by insiders as "Eye-triple-E") stands for Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a nonprofit, technical professional association that turned Apple's technology into an official standard in 1987.

With native IEEE 1394 support now in both the Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X operating systems, the technology has expanded to many professional applications, including nonlinear (digital) video presentation and editing, desktop and commercial publishing, document imaging, home multimedia, and personal computing. This year, Apple implemented a new, faster Firewire 800 technology especially suitable for professional A/V applications. It's officially the new IEEE 1394b standard.

The low overhead, high data rates of 1394, coupled with the ability to mix real-time and asynchronous data on a single connection, and the ability to mix low-speed and high-speed devices on the same network, provides a universal connection for almost any A/V device or peripheral application.

Products using the technology continue to come to market. For example, at the DV Expo in Los Angeles earlier this month, Sony showed how its i.LINK interface technology can bridge traditional audio and video production gear with networked environments. Sony showed several i.LINK-enabled products that can convert compatible audio and video equipment into IT-enabled devices. As a result, content can be created and then shared quickly and easily through multiple means.

The new Sony i.LINK products include the PFM series of professional LCD monitors and the new 80GB version of the Giga Vault hard-disk media device, with compatibility for both Macintosh and PC users.

For more information, visit www.1394ta.org.

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