Quantum has revealed a hard-disk-drive specification for consumer electronics devices that can connect over FireWire (IEEE 1394) networks.

The specification creates a common protocol for hard-drive-equipped consumer devices that will play, store and exchange digital audio-visual content over FireWire networks, Quantum said, Tuesday.

The products expected to emerge from the specification will simplify the wiring needed to connect audio-visual devices to one another. When used as an interface for audio-visual hard-disk drives, FireWire ports can allow for smart communication between intelligent recording and playback devices, Quantum said.

First to launch The first consumer-electronics devices with FireWire-based drives will be launched later this year by Panasonic.

John Kim, vice president of market analyst Trend Focus, said that the new breed of consumer PVRs (personal video recorders) - which combine a set-top TV receiver box with hard-disk storage - will be the long-term saviour of the hard-disk-drive industry. However, he added that the sales explosion in the market is still a couple of years away.

Currently, PVRs can store approximately 20 hours of TV programming, with TV at its current definition using about 1G byte per hour. High-Definition TV uses 9G bytes per hour to store programs and will give a tremendous boost to the disk-drive industry when it becomes widespread, according to Kim.

Kim said other key sectors in the consumer disk-storage market are MP3-audio players, which will soon be accompanied by desktop-storage consoles, digital cameras, navigation systems, Internet appliances and mobile phones.