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whis4ey



Joined: 26/09/11
Posts: 156
Loc: N Ireland
Is firewire on the way out?
      #1039868 - 26/03/13 09:41 AM
Is firewire fast becoming a thing of the past? The USB connection seems to be being developed and adopted by the manufacturers more and more. What are your thoughts or have you any insight?

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Sam


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James PerrettModerator



Joined: 10/09/01
Posts: 10821
Loc: The wilds of Hampshire
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: whis4ey]
      #1039878 - 26/03/13 11:07 AM
The short answer is yes.

Firewire found a few niche uses like video and audio but USB found many more uses and the performance is sufficiently good for most people.

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JRP Music - Audio Mastering and Restoration.
http://www.jrpmusic.net


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 953
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: whis4ey]
      #1039929 - 26/03/13 03:09 PM
Do latency and system load matter in your work? If so, then you might find it useful to take a look through the "Low Latency Audio Interface Database" topic stickied at the top of this forum to see how many USB interfaces better the Firewire ones in those regards. (Hint: not many if any). See also the info on the DAWbench site

Firewire is still very viable for audio in some important respects, even with the emergence of the newer and faster Thunderbolt interfacing option. Apple's inexpensive TB-FW adapter is basically a PCIe FW800 interface in a dongle. Even when connected via its optional TB interface, the UA Apollo still uses FW (over TB) for streaming audio. And some newer interfaces offer "hybrid" FW and USB connectivity, so manufacturers have not necessarily dropped FW for USB.

What is true is that it has become more difficult to find PCs, especially laptops, with onboard FW, and even then, with onboard FW which is actually usable with FW audio interfaces (not that it was really ever all that easy to find compatible onboard (or even add-in) FW).

USB has grown more mature and stable, and USB2 interfaces (and perhaps soon, USB3) now offer comparable performance to FW in some respects (e.g. bandwidth) but not necessarily as good low latency/load performance.


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feline1
active member


Joined: 23/06/03
Posts: 4371
Loc: Brighton, UK
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: whis4ey]
      #1039931 - 26/03/13 03:29 PM
Firewire already *went* out about 3 or 4 years ago.

It seldom worked properly on PCs anyways (there'd always be some handwaving muttering from manufacturers about "oh, you need the right Firewire chipset" - yeah *WHATEVER*, your drivers SUCK)

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~~~ A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with! www.feline1.co.uk ~~~


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BJG145



Joined: 06/08/05
Posts: 3461
Loc: Norwich UK
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: whis4ey]
      #1039934 - 26/03/13 03:31 PM
I still use firewire in preference to USB all the time, for drives, audio and video. I shall mourn its passing.

USB still confuses the heck out of me. All the computers I've seen seem to have different slots running at different speeds and no way of telling which is which.

I must have wasted hours of my life replugging devices into different USB sockets until I find one the computer is apparently happy with, because once you've installed something on one socket the computer seems to expect you to use the same one forever. I've recently been waiting up to five minutes for newly imaged Windows 7 PCs to identify and install the right driver just for a goddamn change of mouse.


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
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Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: BJG145]
      #1039953 - 26/03/13 04:31 PM
And for balance... I use USB2.0 for my audio interfaces and external drives all the time in preference to FW. The only time I use FW is when I'm recording to two drives simultaneously (a neat feature fo the SADiE LRX), to reduce the data on the USB buses.

I don't understand why the Windows OS has to load drivers for specific ports... but it's never been a problem waiting a few seconds for the thing to load a driver on the odd occasion that it hasn't seen a particular device on a specific port before.

H

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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The Elf
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Joined: 14/08/01
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Loc: Sheffield, UK
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: whis4ey]
      #1039966 - 26/03/13 05:50 PM
Firewire may not be going anywhere from here on, but I still choose it over USB for my audio interfaces. I've never had a single problem with Firewire, which is something I can't say about USB.

--------------------
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.


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desmond



Joined: 10/01/06
Posts: 9136
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: The Elf]
      #1039974 - 26/03/13 06:30 PM
FW never really got much traction on PC's for various reasons, and while FW is still present on most Macs, it won't be long before all FW functionality is replaced solely by TB, which acts perfectly as a superset of FW functionality.

Without FW ports on Macs (and most PC's), then FW support for peripherals will slowly die off, with USB and TB taking up the slack. While FW ports themselves will start to disappear, the FW bus will live on for a while yet under a TB transport mechanism.

The thing slowing TB is the cost of implementing it (and the cables) and the fact that most PC users aren't that demanding over needing any I/O beyond what the current USB 3 is capable of offering.


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johnny h



Joined: 24/07/06
Posts: 3563
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: desmond]
      #1039988 - 26/03/13 07:16 PM
Quote desmond:

FW never really got much traction on PC's for various reasons, and while FW is still present on most Macs, it won't be long before all FW functionality is replaced solely by TB, which acts perfectly as a superset of FW functionality.

Without FW ports on Macs (and most PC's), then FW support for peripherals will slowly die off, with USB and TB taking up the slack. While FW ports themselves will start to disappear, the FW bus will live on for a while yet under a TB transport mechanism.

The thing slowing TB is the cost of implementing it (and the cables) and the fact that most PC users aren't that demanding over needing any I/O beyond what the current USB 3 is capable of offering.




On macs firewire is safe for the foreseeable future. PC desktops will be capable of running firewire cards as long as PCI cards exist. The only real problem computers are PC laptops without thunderbolt or expresscard expansion options.


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 953
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: desmond]
      #1039998 - 26/03/13 07:54 PM
Quote desmond:

FW never really got much traction on PC's for various reasons, and while FW is still present on most Macs, it won't be long before all FW functionality is replaced solely by TB, which acts perfectly as a superset of FW functionality.




Plenty of PCs had FW ports, not all of them usable with various audio interfaces though, same with a lot of Macs. Still, when audio over FW did work its was usually a vast improvement over USB1, certainly until USB2's improved bandwidth became available. USB on a lot of PCs was crappy too.

TB is not a superset of FW functionality, it externalizes PCIe (and DP) and so by extension of a PCIe x4 capability outside the box means that we can now in effect have external PCIe interfaces (with the high bandwidth and lower latency and loading advantages of PCIe) and not need FW or USB. Hopefully this will bear fruit as TB ports become more common, especially on laptop PCs.

I say "hopefully" because the arrival of PCIe on PCs and Macs did not result in the release of much in the way of PCIe interfaces except at the higher end of the market, and nowadays it has in many cases and for various reasons become difficult to keep many older PCI interfaces in service.

Quote desmond:

Without FW ports on Macs (and most PC's), then FW support for peripherals will slowly die off, with USB and TB taking up the slack. While FW ports themselves will start to disappear, the FW bus will live on for a while yet under a TB transport mechanism.




As already noted, Apple's TB FW adapter is essentially a PCIe-FW interface (which iirc embeds the same LSI/Agere PCIe FW800 chip as in the Macbook Pro.

Quote desmond:

The thing slowing TB is the cost of implementing it (and the cables) and the fact that most PC users aren't that demanding over needing any I/O beyond what the current USB 3 is capable of offering.




From what I've heard, the "thing" slowing TB adoption is really Intel.

Meanwhile, no news of late regarding PCI-SIG and e-PCIe, maybe that's dead in the water:

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/87658-external-pci-express-offers-che aper-thinner-faster-thunderbolt-alternative

But then, not seen anything currently on offer interface-wise in the way of USB3 either, although I've not much interest in USB3 anyway since I'm quite happy using e-SATA for external drives.


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ScudS



Joined: 10/11/11
Posts: 9
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: Hugh Robjohns]
      #1040036 - 27/03/13 04:28 AM
Just curious on what the group thought of the ethernet based boxes such as Focusrite Rednet stuff or similar? What are the pros and cons of those?


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Goddard



Joined: 04/04/12
Posts: 953
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: ScudS]
      #1040047 - 27/03/13 08:56 AM
Quote ScudS:

Just curious on what the group thought of the ethernet based boxes such as Focusrite Rednet stuff or similar? What are the pros and cons of those?




Hugh's recent RedNet article:

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/mar13/articles/focusrite-rednet.htm

You also might direct your curiosity here:

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=1031734& ;page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=&fpart=1#1031734

and here:

http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=&Number=1040023& ;Main=918351#Post1036836

Heh, you aren't the only one who is curious!


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Hugh RobjohnsAdministrator
SOS Technical Editor


Joined: 25/07/03
Posts: 22035
Loc: Worcestershire
Re: Is firewire on the way out? new [Re: ScudS]
      #1040066 - 27/03/13 11:09 AM
High end network systems, like Rednet/Dante, aren't cheap and I don't see them as a cost-effective solution for typical home and project studios.

As far asI can see, they really only come into their own when working with very high channel counts, or where hardware interfaces need to be distributed around a building far from the mains DAW, or where shared I/O access is necessary.

So we're really talking about big commercial multi-room studios and sophisticated pro-audio teaching facilities -- and the latter is where ALL the money is in pro-audio right now!

As a technology, Rednet is very, very good. But if you only want 8 or 16 channels in and out of a DAW it's a very expensive and complex way of getting it with no real advantage over a decent PCIe-based interface.

H

--------------------
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound


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