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FireWire lights storage devices

A Lucent Technologies chip makes it easier to adapt storage devices to the FireWire standard, which creates high-speed connections between PCs and peripherals.

Lucent Technologies has announced a new chip that will make it easier for manufacturers of storage devices such as disk drives and CD-ROM drives to adapt current products to the upcoming high-speed FireWire standard, also known as "1394."

FireWire/1394 technology offers high-speed connections between PCs and peripheral computer equipment. To date, 1394 has been targeted mostly as a data transfer technology for consumer products such as digital camcorders and VCRs. But Lucent hopes that its chip will spur storage device manufacturers to adopt 1394 also.

Lucent's "Instant 1394 ATA" is a single, high-performance chip that can be built into a storage device to provide the circuitry necessary for 1394 compatibility. Integrating several, previously discrete components into a single processor, it supports transfer rates up to 33 MB/sec. This makes the 1394 chip speedy enough to handle full-motion video and other high-bandwidth data types.

By contrast, the Universal Serial Bus, another data transfer technology that is currently being introduced on new PCs by most manufacturers, is designed for lower-bandwidth devices such as mice, keyboards, and scanners.

This 1394 chip also obviates the need for device manufacturers to develop special operating software to produce a 1394-compatible product.

The new chip is being introduced at the 1394 Developers Conference, being held in San Jose, California, this week.

The Instant 1394 ATA, bundled with its software, will be sold to peripheral manufacturers at $9.50 in quantities of 1,000. Samples of the chip will be available in November, and production quantities should ship in early 1998.