Machine Vision News
Vol. 10, 2005
Why the IEEE1394b triumph is already on the cards.
The digital age has generated a complex variety of
technologies, audio and video systems gies, audio and video
systems which are all becoming increasingly popular. The use of digital
technology around the home and in the office is increasingly taken for
granted: simply think of how easy it has become to download movies off
the Internet onto the computer or edit your holiday films on your PC.
The key technology that makes all this possible is the so-called IEEE1394
multimedia bus – the most reliable, most cost-effective and most efficient
way to move to audio and video data. Endorsed by the most well-known
bodies, such as the American Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers,
Inc. and the 1394 Trade Association – a worldwide consortium of more than
170 companies – this standard has been able to steadily develop.
1394 – The Technology
A multimedia connection with the
IEEE standard enables the simplest,
cheapest broadband isochronous
(realtime orientated) data transfer
between computers, peripherals and
consumer products such as camcorders,
video machines, printers,
PC’s, televisions and digital cameras.
With IEEE1394 compatible devices
or products, users can transfer videos
or images from a camera or a camcorder
onto printer, PC or TV without
any loss of quality. To illustrate the
function of IEEE1394, one should
simply imagine a large road network
which gives speed limits and right of
way to an assortment of different vehicles.
What matters to a truck might
not be relevant to a car – but each
of them are processed through an
with standard rules.
protocol is essentially
set up in the same
way: it is efficient and
does not require individual
know how the entire
system is set up.
The general architecture of the 1394
standard regulates the data flow. What
makes 1394 different to other standards
is that it segments the data flow
between connectors into asynchronous
and isochronous channels.
Asynchronous channels are used for
command and control functions of the
bus and also for the transfer of bulk
data such as IP files between applications
and the network.
Isochronous channels are focused on
audio data and streaming video. 1394
is one of the few interfaces that are set
up for asynchronous as well as isochronous
1394 means "Plug and Play" – that
means that the entire system
can continue working whilst
additional connections are
connected or disconnected.
1394 is "peer-to-peer" –
that means that the user
doesn’t have to think about
nector (or system) on the entire network
has a sort of individual 1394
intelligence. 1394 offers a highspeed
network where users are no longer
required to configure or address complex
network setups themselves.
Unlike analogue and even other digital
technical image transfer standards,
IEEE1394 is industry friendly and
thus usable in highly complex automated
Additionally, the Firewire architecture
makes the usually required expensive
image processing PC cards – known
as framegrabbers – redundant.
IEEE1394b – the next step.
The 1394 bus in the 1394 to 1995
specifications as well as version 1394a
allows speeds of up to 400 megabits/
second over distances of 4,5 meters.
This amount of performance has
ensured that the 1394 interface has
become a standard port in almost all
of today’s hard disks, printers, scanners,
notebooks and computers.
But 1394 is not static, it is constantly
undergoing development. After 1394a,
version 1394b has now set the parameters
forms and products.
The 1394b technology
builds on the
strengths of 1394a
and adds several
advancements to it:
1394b increases the bandwidth from
the current 400 megabits/second to
800Mbits. And that is only the beginning.
Further bandwidth increases
for the 1394b standard of 1,6 to 3,2
Gigabits/second are foreseen – eight
times as much as what 1394a
revolutionized data communication
1394b makes data transfers within
networks over 100 meters possible.
Transfers via high-performance, industrial
CAT5 cables, fibre optic cables
such as Plastic Optical Fibre (POF),
Glass Optical Fibre (GOF) and
Shielded twisted pair connections
(STP) lets networks work more
Compatible with 1394a
1394b hardly replaces 1394a – which
makes the investment in the Firewire
standard secure. IEEE1394b is backward
compatible – all devices fitted
with this new technology can communicate
with 1394a devices without any
restrictions. Alternately, the A standard
integrates the B-standard without any
New plugs and connections
To ensure that further development of
Firewire technology stays transparent,
new connections and plugs were developed.
A 1394b end device will typically
have a "beta" as well as a
"bilingual" connection. Whereas the
"beta" connection is concerned purely
with 1394b signals, a "bilingual"
connection offers the transfer of 1394a
and 1394b signals. The connectors
conceptualised for this compatibility
offer the following combinations:
bilingual, 4 pole 1394a cables which
are usually used by commercial devices
such as camcorders.
bilingual, 6 pole cables 1394a cables
which are usually used in all other end
devices such as DTV’s, DVD’s and set
Beta-to-beta connection cables purely
for the connection of 1394b end
A continuously functioning
communication solution is
thus created for all combinations of 1394a and 1394b
applications. The architecture of a network can now
that influence communication efficiency, bridging of
distances, specific applications, required bandwidths
and last but not least, the costs.
The move from 1394a to purely
1394b applications is thus a safe
investment for the future.
Parameter / Oy Optoparameter Ab
Tekniikantie 4, FI-02150 Espoo Finland
Tel: +358 9 43 555 00
Fax: +358 9 43 555 011