Firewire Versus USB 2.0 Data Transfer Rates - UK PC Hardware Info.

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Comparison and information on Firewire over USB 2.0

USB 2.0 Vs. Firewire is Like Despotism Vs. The American Way

By Cameron Postelwait

USB 2.0-ism Is Like Despotism

USB (Universal Serial Bus) was designed after the ruling style of David Bowie, the famous 6th century Saxon Despot. His empire was vast, and he subdued his captors with hits like Ziggy Stardust and Blue Jean. His famous demise characterized him as the man who sold the world during a moonage daydream, and was forced to face the strange changes of the wensleydale cheese famine of 581 A.D.

Just like the great 6th century despot, David Bowie, USB uses a similar "Master-Slave" architecture. If you suddenly have that catchy Depeche Mode song Master and Servant stuck in your head, feel free to pause here and sing it out of your system.
The computer (aka master, aka the unrelenting owner of mankind's souls, aka David Bowie) determines and dictates all data flow to and from and between all peripherals. Although your despotic computer is pretty smart sometimes, and can even be a benign ruler, it isn't always the best at controlling the data throughput.
USB 2.0 is also called "hi-speed" USB because it has a theoretical data transfer rate of 480 mbps ("b" here is of course for "bits" and not "bytes"), faster than 6-pin firewire transfer rates of 400 mbps. This of course is a theoretical transfer rate because USB's tyrannical system of being in charge of controlling data is just plain inefficient (sorry folks, not getting anymore technical than that), making data transfer rates quite inconsistent. In other words, you will never get a consistent transfer rate of 480 mbps over the course of any practical data transfer. The giant philistine turns out to be a slow poke after all.

Firewire Is Like The American Way

Firewire is like the American way (I'm not talking Democracy, or even Socialism) because it uses a peer-to-peer architecture where the peripherals can make up their own minds about who can control the data transfer best. It is a lot like America's new peer-to-peer way of distributing data... illegally. The same way Americans can download a peer-to-peer file sharing program and share free versions of Ziggy Stardust, Blue Jean, and Master and Servant, firewire allows peripherals to cooperate and decide the most efficient way to trade data.

The Main Event

Warning: The following content is almost completely hearsay.
So some people somewhere did some tests with an IDE hard drive to see if USB 2.0 or Firewire would deliver faster transfer speeds. The thing is, if you look online you will be able to find dozens of these comparison tests and all the results are very similar.
In this particular test:

Read Test
5000 files (300 MB total) Firewire was 33% faster than USB 2.0
160 files (650 MB total) Firewire was 70% faster than USB 2.0

Write Test
5000 files (300 MB total) Firewire was 16% faster than USB 2.0
160 files (650 MB total) Firewire was 48% faster than USB 2.0

Take that, you big mean bully.


About The Author

Cameron Postelwait works in Business Development at Sewell Direct, retailers of fine Firewire Products and USB to serial adapters.

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Last Update: 14-Mar-2009

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