Apple's FireWire gamble is paying off in the storage market, with a growing number of vendors at Macworld Expo in San Francisco delivering drives using the high-speed connectivity protocol.

FireWire drives are still more expensive than their SCSI or IDE counterparts, and until now, the Mac OS hasn't been bootable from FireWire devices. However, rumours that Apple is preparing to expand its FireWire support could help speed the new hardware's adoption across the board.

On Wednesday, MicroNet Technology announced the SanCube, a device designed to use FireWire as a standard for distributed storage on Mac networks.

The SanCube includes ups to six IBM hard drives and will serve as the centrepiece of a "storage area network" for data sharing, backup, archiving and retrieval among multiple Macs. It is designed to complement the look of current Macs, MicroNet said.

The product, aimed at graphics and multimedia professionals, will hold up to 220GB of data with transfer rates up to 30MB per second. Up to four users can access files simultaneously, MicroNet said.

SanCube will ship in March for $1,500 (£990) for a 70GB, single-user system; $2,150 (£1,290) for a 100GB, two-user configuration; $2,700 (£1,620) for a 150GB, two-user model; and $3,900 (£2,340) for a 220GB, four-user system.

In other FireWire storage news, La Cie will roll out the La Cie PocketDrive line of compact, portable hard drives that include both FireWire and Universal Serial Bus interfaces. The systems will be available in February. The PocketDrive will come in 6GB, 12GB and 18GB configurations.

VST Technologies, meanwhile, is also expanding its line, to include portable drives that combine FireWire and USB. VST's models will include 6MB and 12MB systems. All the new devices will ship in the first quarter of 2000, the company said.