Go External: FireWire 800

Instead of the six pin FireWire connector, the smaller, four pin i.LINK connector is often used for notebooks. The question as to whether this is at all useful for mobile applications can be disputed. Some users always want to be able to use FireWire devices, while others want to avoid this, if possible, in order to preserve the battery. We should mention here that the i.LINK connector does not come with the two power supply wires.

FireWire As A Network Solution

FireWire presents a genuine alternative for networking a small number of computers, since with a rate of 400 Mbps even older FireWire adapters are superior to a high-grade 100 BaseT card for simple data transfer tasks (see Benchmarks).

Many users are unaware that it is possible to use FireWire ports to set up a small network. With two computers, one FireWire port per system suffices for networking. However, networks with three or more PCs require two FireWire ports per system. Also, you need two ports for systems within the FireWire device chain (one in, one out), while the ending computers only need one.

USB 2.0 can also be used to set up small networks, although special cables are required in this case.

OS' pose the greatest challenge in setting up a network based on either USB or FireWire connections. FireWire networks run under Linux and Mac OS without any problems. With Windows, however, only the IPv4 over 1394 protocol is supported, which only allows for IP data transfer.

The IP address required for network operation is unlikely to be available via DHCP for FireWire, since we know of no servers to date designed for this. This is not a problem, however, since in small networks, manually assigning an IP address is not difficult.

However, FireWire poses major security risks. While data that passes computers within a FireWire network chain can be monitored and extracted easily at every hop, using an Ethernet with switches will not allow data flow between two machines to be monitored except if a manageable switch with port mirroring feature is used. For anyone who is not troubled by this security risk, FireWire offers a network solution that is entirely sufficient for home usage. It also offers better performance than 100 Mbit Ethernet.