A speedy, long-distance version of the IEEE-1394 interface appears to be making headway over the rival Universal Serial Bus for next-generation consumer and computer systems. OEMs will be watching closely as the 1394b specifications go through their final round of balloting later this month over the Internet. Silicon for 1394b is due by the third quarter, and systems will be rolling out next year.
Maintaining peer-to-peer operation and identical functionality above the link layer with legacy 1394, the new 1394b spec extends the device-to-device interconnect distance to 100 meters. It allows data transfer between devices at 800 or 1,600 Mbits/second, or up to 3.2 Gbits/s, depending on whether copper wiring or fiber is used. In contrast, the legacy 1394 spec provides 400-Mbit/s data throughput over 4.5 meters, and USB 2.0, released a year ago, transfers data at 12 to 480 Mbits/s over 5 meters.