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What Are the Different Types of FireWire® Drivers?

A USB cable to the left of two Firewire® cables.
A FireWire® port.
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  • Written By: Helen Akers
  • Edited By: Jessica Seminara
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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FireWire® drivers allow peripheral devices to transfer data between each other and a computer system. The technology works with multiple types of operating systems and devices such as digital cameras. Some types of FireWire® drivers transfer data at 400 megabytes per second (MBPS), while others perform at speeds of 800 MBPS. Triple interface ports are possible with some types of firewire&reg hardware, which allows users to plug up to three devices into one connection.

The standard driver type behind FireWire® technology is IEEE 1394. It operates on the idea of creating a higher speed serial bus connection. When FireWire® devices are plugged into a port, most operating systems automatically recognize the device and retrieve the manufacturers' drivers. Built into the operating system is the driver for the interface card that allows multiple devices to be plugged in and used without having to reboot the computer.

This concept imitates the universal serial bus (USB) plug and play model. Most computers are equipped with multiple USB ports that support devices such as keyboards, mice, printers and MP3 players. The plug and play connection allows data to be transferred between the computer and the attached device without using excessive random access memory or hard drive space. FireWire® drivers were created to support a higher rate of data transfer than a standard USB connection.

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Devices that may use FireWire® drivers include printers, scanners, digital cameras, video devices and external disk drives. Some of these devices may use a traditional USB cable. Firewire® connectors may come in a four, six or nine pin format. Drives and devices that support an 800 MBPS connection typically have a nine pin cable. For example, a digital camera that runs on FireWire® technology may plug into a FireWire® port with a USB cable, while an external hard drive may use a nine pin connection.

FireWire® drivers can also be used to establish communication between two peripheral devices. For instance, a printer and a digital camera may use a FireWire® port to send data without having to use the computer's memory. In this case, picture images may be transferred directly to the printer through software application commands.

While most modern operating systems come equipped with the capability of supporting multiple FireWire® drivers, each device will have its own separate driver. If a computer user plugs in three supported devices, the manufacturer of each device will create and support that device's driver. Some operating systems automatically search the Internet for the driver, while others require users to manually install it on the computer's hard drive.

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