UMAX to add FireWire ports

UMAX Technologies Inc. last week said it will team up with Radius Inc.

UMAX Technologies Inc. last week said it will team up with Radius Inc. on forthcoming FireWire bundles. While its first systems will run the Mac OS, UMAX said it will also offer Windows NT systems that include the interface.

The company declined to provide details but said it plans a second-quarter release for its first FireWire configuration. The system will be based on UMAX's SuperMac S900 and integrate Radius' PhotoDV FireWire PCI capture card and software combination. In July, UMAX will release a high-performance Windows NT workstation that includes the cross-platform package.

"Cross-platform is very important for us," said Mark Housley, chairman and CEO of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Radius. The company shipped the Windows 95 version of its $399 PhotoDV package in late March.

Housley said the Windows NT 4.0 version of PhotoDV will require a different set of FireWire (or IEEE 1394) drivers than those used with the current Windows 95 software. Unlike Mac OS 8.1, which features built-in FireWire support, Windows requires vendors to develop custom 1394 drivers.

The engineering challenge, Housley said, is to achieve reliable isochronous data transfers and speedy data transfer rates on Windows NT. "It's not hard to read from a [digital video] device, but going the other way without dropping frames is tough on the PC side."

UMAX Technologies Inc. of Fremont, Calif., can be reached at (510) 651-4000 or (800) 232-8629; fax (510) 651-8834;