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There are two versions of the FireWire interface in use – the first or original version of FireWire, sometimes referred to as FireWire 400 (or IEEE 1394a) and FireWire 800 (or IEEE 1394b). Developed as a high performance, high-speed serial data bus for digital audio and video interconnection by Apple and Texas Instruments, data rates are 800 MBps (Mega Bits per second) for FireWire 800 and 400 MBps for FireWire 400. FireWire's primary use is for personal computer (PC) users with a high-speed, relatively low-cost and scalable serial interface to peripherals including printers, digital cameras, disk drives and other multi-media components. Simply put, the FireWire bus allows the user to connect up to 63 devices in a “daisy chain” configuration. In addition, FireWire components can be plugged in or out without powering the system down – in other words, while the system is “hot” – and, when a new component (node) is detected, the topology of the existing nodes occurs with no impact on the functionality of the system.
FireWire continues to be supported by all major electronics manufacturers such as Texas Instruments, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Sony, Intel, Apple, Microsoft, IBM, and others.