Las Vegas - Visitors to this week's Comdex/Fall '97 here can reap the latest harvest of products that tap into FireWire, the up-and-coming serial-interconnect standard.
The 1394 Trade Association room featured a cornucopia of new announcements, including several storage devices and demonstrations of networking.
Apple showed a prototype 1394 hard drive running QuickTime movies. Based on a Quantum mechanism, the drive used a 1394 controller and supported hot plug-and-play. When the drive was unplugged while Movie Player 2.5 played several movies stored on the device, playback paused; it resumed automatically after the drive was reconnected.
"1394 is really kicking," said Charles McConathy, president of ProMax Systems Inc. of Irvine, Calif., which offers a 1394-based digital video editing package. He said the industry needs to fall in line behind the standard.
However, "all the 1394 people have to do it right," McConathy said. Some 1394 chip sets aren't totally compliant, and the physical connectors for digital cameras are not always compatible, he said. "It's like the early days of SCSI. If they can come together, by this time next year 1394 could replace IDE."
Several vendors showed high-performance storage with 1394 connectors. Medea Corp. announced FireRaid, a series of 1394 arrays ranging from 14 to 56 Gbytes.
In addition, attendees expressed interest in several working prototypes of the 1394-based Device Bay standard proposed by Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Using a standard removable enclosure, the bays will hold hard drive modules as well as other storage devices. SLH Design Corp. said its OEM Device Bay units will also work with Macs.
Adaptec Inc. demonstrated its AHA-8945, a combination IEEE 1394 and Ultra SCSI-3 card due to ship in January 1998. The card will cost $699. A new card with a single 1394 port for the PC market will cost $299.
In addition, Adaptec demonstrated a 1394 version of its SlimSCSI 1480 SCSI-to-CardBus card for notebook computers. "It would be perfect for the Mac platform," said Barbara Murphy, marketing manager for the portable products group at the Milpitas, Calif., company. She acknowledged, however, that no Mac notebook currently supports the standard: "We're waiting on Apple to implement CardBus."
Unibrain S.A. said it will offer a Mac version of its FireNet Ethernet emulator for 1394 networking in January; the driver is currently available for Windows NT. It also said it expects to release FireBoard, a new Mac 1394 card that will cost less than $300.
Sony Corp. showed off its latest developments on the 1394 networking front: a repeater box and a new connector for plastic optical cable, which can extend each node as far as 100 meters, the company said.