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Product: DuoConnect
Company: Adaptec
Website: http://www.adaptec.com
Estimated Street Price: 115.99$
Review By: Julien Jay

FireWire  

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Card & Drivers Installation
3: FireWire & USB 2.0
4: USBControl, Tests & Software
5: Conclusion

The FireWire is a norm that was initially created by Apple in the nineties. Itís also known as IEEE 1394, iLink or even SB1394 depending on its marketing name. However only one company is behind FireWire, Texas Instruments. Over the years, Texas Instruments has developed reliable FireWire chips that offer  perfect compatibility with every FireWire device. The FireWire is supposed to offer a speed of 400Mbps, delivering more than 30 times the bandwidth of the popular USB 1.1. Just like the USB, you can hot plug FireWire devices with no problems while Windows is running and create a chain composed by up to 63 devices. Through the years, the FireWire serial input/output norm has become the standard device used by digital camcorders, digital VCRs and other video equipment that require a huge bandwidth of 200MB/sec. FireWire was critically acclaimed and won the Primetime Emmy Engineering Award! Today many external storage devices like Iomega Peerless, burners and hard disks are using the FireWire connection.  This occurrence is partly due to the slow appearance of USB 2.0, the affordable cost of IEEE 1394ís technology and the technical advantages of the interface that use few system resources to operate.

Usb 2.0 Explanations

Massively adopted by every computer user, the Universal Serial Bus standard has almost replaced the old school serial port because of its numerous yet undeniable advantages. The promoters of the USB worked hard to deliver a connecting norm that features serious qualities: hot plug, plug & play, plus the ability to connect 127 devices simultaneously. However the USB as we know it today has one weak point; the interface offers a slow transfer rate. With USB 1.1ís poor transfer rate it was impossible for manufacturers to consider releasing USB storage devices like hard disks, USB high speed burners, USB network adapters, USB video capturing devices, etc. 

Thatís why the members (Compaq, Intel, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Nec, Philips, etc.) of the USB Implementers Forum have co-developed a new promising generation of the USB norm extending performances by up to 40 times over existing capabilities. USB 2.0 features all the qualities of todayís USB but above all it offers an extraordinary bandwidth of 480 Mbps against only 12 Mbps for USB 1.1, thus unveiling new possibilities to connect high speed and high demanding devices. Today many USB 2.0 devices are available like hard drives, scanners, burners, etc.  

As stated before the main advantage of the USB 2.0 is its unprecedented bandwidth. With a 480 Mbps bandwidth, the USB 2.0 beats the theoretical 400 Mbps bandwidth offered by the FireWire standard. Obviously Adaptec DuoConnect card is backward compatible with thousands of USB 1.1 devices; this means you can still connect and use your USB 1.1 equipments with the card. However, USB 1.1 devices connected on a USB 2.0 controller will work only at 1.5 Mbps or 12 Mbps. Just like its predecessor you can connect up to 127 USB devices to the Adaptec DuoConnect USB 2.0 ports (you can combine USB 1.1 & USB 2.0 devices).  

As hot and exciting as it sounds, USB 2.0 has some drawbacks! Indeed youíll have to change your existing USB hubs if you want a hub that offers full speed USB 2.0 connectors. Moreover, connecting a USB 1.1 hub to the Adaptec DuoConnect will limit the speed of your USB devices to the maximal speed of 12Mbps that the USB 1.1 offers. Plus you have to use special USB 2.0 branded cables to connect USB 2 devices to the adapter, otherwise the USB 2.0 devices will operate in USB 1.1.

ę Card & Drivers Installation USBControl, Tests & Software Ľ

 

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