Go External: FireWire 800

Test Candidate 1: Century Global 1394b V1

For this test, we used cards produced by Century Global. The 1394b cards, known as V1, are based on the TSB82AA2 from Texas Instruments, which Windows immediately detects as an OHCI compatible 1394 device. Unfortunately, it is not easy figuring out which mode runs here. The manufacturer does not supply drivers or utilities.

Each of the adaptors offer three 1394b ports, which can be operated in any configuration - either with three terminals, or within a FireWire network with an additional terminal.

Century Global has made ample provision, equipping the card with a 64 bit wide PCI interface. With 800 Mbps (or 100 MB/s when converted), 1394b just about reaches the limit as to which the PCI bus is capable of with the usual 32 bit and 33 MHz. In theory, this is up to 132 MB/s, in practice, however, this suffers due to the fact that the bus is used equally by all the connected devices. A sound card, the USB controller (mouse, keyboard, web cam, printer, scanner), a TV or video editing card - all of these gobble up bandwidth. The theoretical maximum rate is only attained in isolated cases.

Three connections even permit operation as a "FireWire hub" within a network.

Thanks to the 64 bit PCI, the 1394b controller is not restricted in any way in terms of bandwidth.