The giant computer trade show, Comdex, is set to be the battleground for supremacy between USB 2.0 and the current implementation of FireWire, IEEE1394.
IEEE1394 was popularized by Apple in the mid-1990s as FireWire, an easy and fast way to exchange digital-video data with computer systems. USB (Universal Serial Bus) debuted in 1997, as a way to connect a growing number of peripherals to PCs.
Each standard has had its own market, but the advent of consumer digital video and home multimedia networks have pitched the standards head-to-head.
FireWire boasts a top speed of 400Mbps (bits per second) against USB 1.1's 12Mbps. However USB 2.0 offers 480Mbps.
The recent Computex show in Taipei, Taiwan marked the en masse appearance of devices supporting IEEE1394a. Then, just over a month ago, Japanese electronics makers used the World PC Expo exhibition in Japan to showcase a number of new devices supporting both USB 2.0 and FireWire.
Battleground set Now that battle is set to move to Las Vegas and the floor of Comdex. The USB camp, in the shape of the 800-member USB Implementers Forum, will have its own stand in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. USB 2.0 will be in the spotlight. Peripherals supporting USB 2.0 have already begun to appear on the market, though FireWire devices remain more readily available.
Both camps are already well into the standardization stage of upgrades to their respective formats. The 1394 Trade Association is working on IEEE1394b, a version that takes data-transfer speeds up to 1.6Gbps, with plans for 3.2Gbps in the future.
The USB Implementer's Forum, meanwhile, is finalizing USB On-the-go, which will allow USB 2.0-equipped devices to interconnect without the need for a controlling PC.
Comdex opens in Las Vegas on November 12.