Basic Computing

Firewire port What is it and how does its connectivity work?

Do you have a device with a firewire port and you don’t know what to do with it? Don’t worry, in this article you will learn all the details about this type of digital connection. Firewire Port to USB 

Firewire port

firewire port to usb
firewire port to usb

The firewire port is a type of digital connection, compatible with both Mac and PC, which allows several external devices to be connected at the same time. Its trade name is IEEE 1394 and it was designed by Apple Computer in 1995, with the intention of improving the connectivity and speed of the USB ports of the moment.

How does the firewire port work?

First, the firewire port was designed to fill in the connectivity deficiencies of the pre-existing ports at the time of its launch. In this way, this type of connection works through an operating system that automatically finds the device when it is installed.

Thus, once the operating system detects the device, it asks the user what is necessary for the installation of the corresponding driver, so that the device can work. In this regard, it is important to mention that the firewire port does not require that the device or the computer be turned off before making a connection or disconnection.

On the other hand, it is necessary to note that the cable corresponding to the firewire port is not standardized. Therefore, in addition to the cable, you need a firewire to USB adapter for it to work.

On this last aspect, we must always make sure to buy the correct cable, since they are not compatible with each other. On the other hand, if our port is Firewire 800, it is not advisable to purchase a 2.0 adapter, since the connection is very slow.


firewire port to usb
firewire port to usb

The firewire port is an interface with very diverse characteristics. Next, we will present some of them:


First, the firewire port can connect up to 63 devices on the same bus, achieving a transfer rate of 400 megabits per second (Mbps). In addition, it allows the powering of devices with a consumption of up to 45 watts (w).

In this regard, an important fact is that each device connected to the same bus can operate at its own maximum speed. This is made possible by the ability of the firewire port to switch between different speeds.


Regarding the transmission speed, although the most common is 400 Mbps, there are also standard speeds of 100 and 200 megabits per second. Also, with firewire 2, speeds of 800 and 1600 Mbps are being implemented.

In practice, the connection of the firewire port is a little higher than that provided by the USB 2.0 port, which makes it more stable. Thanks to this feature, this port is ideal for connecting video devices to your computer.


On the other hand, there are several types of firewire port connectors : including the six-pin and the four-pin. The latter lacks power contacts; In addition, we must mention that the connector that goes to the devices is not standardized.

Additionally, as we mentioned, the firewire port is compatible with Mac and PC. Which constitutes a great advantage, since it also allows the interconnection between both teams.

Data transmission

The data transmission of the firewire port is isochronous, that is, it transmits data from one point to another in real time. This feature is very useful in cases where constant monitoring of information is required.

Similarly, the firewire port ensures that installed devices do not consume system resources. In other words, these resources, such as memory, are only used by the devices to communicate with each other, without the direct intervention of the computer.


In this regard, the cable corresponding to the firewire port is five meters long; In addition, it has a full duplex connection. As for its location, it is usually found on the chipset of the computer’s motherboard.


Finally, despite all the favorable features we just mentioned, the firewire port tends to be deprecated. In addition, it is being replaced by USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports and Thunderbolt technology.

In general terms, its use is currently limited to the field of digital video, where information requires traveling at high speed, without losing quality and performance. However, the industrial and military sectors continue to use it.


Thanks to technological advances, the firewire port has been evolving from its beginnings to the present day. So we have the following versions:

Firewire 400

Firewire 400, also called IEEE 1394, is the first known version of this type of firewire ports. This version, released in 1995, contains the traditional six-pin connector and reaches a speed much higher than the USB 1.0 and 1.1 ports.

Additionally, in 2000 a port known as IEEE 1394a emerged, which included an energy saving mode. For this reason, instead of having six pins, it had four; however, it quickly disappeared.

Firewire 800

This version of the firewire port is also called IEEE 1394b, and it is contemporary with the USB 2.0 port, that is, it dates from the year 2000. On the other hand, instead of six pins it contains nine, reaching a real transmission speed of 786 megabits per second, with a range of up to 100 meters per cable.

Additionally, this port is retro-compatible with the firewire 400, through the use of hybrid cables that allow the connection between six and nine-pin connectors respectively. Finally, the firewire 800 port is semi-duplex technology.

Firewire s1600

The s1600 firewire port hit the market at the end of 2007, maximizing the transmission speed up to 1.6 gigabytes per minute. However, like the version that precedes it, its connector is nine pins.

This port is ideal for use in multimedia and storage applications. However, it did not reach the desired popularity.

Firewire s3200

This version is contemporary with the s1600 port, but supports transfers of up to 3.2 gigabytes per minute. Like the previous version, it has nine pins and is ideal for use with camcorders, hard drives and optical devices.

Firewire s800T

The s8T firewire port was the last to hit the market and is also known as IEEE 1394c. The intention of this port is to combine in one, the advantages of firewire technology with RJ-45 Ethernet, with a CAT-5 cable.

In this regard, I invite you to watch the following video about the different versions of the firewire port.

Comparison between the firewire port and the USB port

Generally speaking, the firewire port is quite similar to USB, especially when it comes to internal bus power. In addition, both allow connecting and disconnecting devices without turning off the equipment, as well as being able to automatically detect any installed device (Plug and Play).


However, the firewire port differs from USB in that it uses a daisy chain configuration, whereas USB uses hubs. In other words, thanks to this configuration, the firewire port allows multiple computers to access the connected devices.


Additionally, as we have already mentioned, the connection of the firewire port is slightly higher than that of USB 2.0. However, the difference in favor is much greater when compared to the USB 1.0 ports.

Data transfer

Another essential characteristic of this type of port is that it is mainly oriented towards broadband devices. This represents a disadvantage with respect to USB 2.0 ports, which allow, for the same cost, this type of connection and even a slower one.


As for the type of connectors that both ports have, due to the difference between the pins, it is not possible to connect a firewire where a USB goes, and vice versa. In this regard, any mistake can cause serious damage to the port.

Host device

Apart from everything we have mentioned, the firewire port does not require the presence of a host device, that is, it works under the philosophy known as Peer to peer. While the USB port requires a PC to connect two devices.

Device control

Additionally, this port allows us to control the device that has been installed from the computer. In this way, in the case of connected video cameras, we can start, pause, reverse, among other functions.


On the other hand, the port does not have a direct exit from the motherboard to the outside. Contrary to the USB port that does not require any expansion cable.

Firewire to USB adapter

Most computers today lack a firewire port , but all have more than one USB port. In this way, it is common to find USB 3.1 ports capable of supporting a transfer rate of 10,240 Mbps, which greatly exceeds the 800 Mbps of the firewire port.

On the other hand, if we have a device that only accepts firewire connection, we will need to convert that connection to USB. In this regard, it is necessary to note that the data transmission rate will be lower, but in return we can install the device to the computer.

What is a Firewire to USB Adapter?

In general terms, a firewire to USB adapter is a cable that has a firewire input port at one end, that is, type In, and a USB output port, also known as Out, on the other.

The side corresponding to the data input measures approximately 1.27 centimeters, very close to the length of the output end. However, the end corresponding to the firewire port is curved and has a small Y-shaped mark that distinguishes it.

How to convert a firewire cable to USB?

To convert a firewire cable, in such a way that it adapts to the hardware of a USB port, it is necessary to fulfill the following steps:

  • First, we need to connect the side of the firewire adapter with one of the firewire connections on the cable. Then, we connect the other end of the adapter cable to one of the available USB ports on the computer.
  • Next, we connect the other end of the firewire cable that is free in the device that we want to install on the computer. The last thing is to turn on the device so that the system automatically recognizes it from the USB connection.
  • In this regard, it is important to note that if the computer’s USB connection is not up-to-date, the data transfer speed will correspond to a USB 1.1 port, and not a USB 2.0.

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