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Using IEEE 1394 (FireWire) Devices with Windows XP

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This article was previously published under Q310433
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This article describes the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) 1394 standard and how to use IEEE 1394 with Microsoft Windows XP.

NOTE: Apple Computer FireWire is a common implementation of the IEEE 1394 standard.

IEEE 1394 Capabilities

The IEEE 1394 standard defines a high speed serial interface that can be used to connect peripheral devices, for example, printers, scanners, and cameras, to your computer. Some common features of the IEEE 1394 standard are:
  • A simple plug and socket connection. This connection is visually similar to universal serial bus (USB) connections, although USB and IEEE 1394 are not compatible.
  • The capacity to have up to 63 devices connected serially (in series) to a single port.
  • Data transfer speeds of up to the rate of 400 megabytes (MB) per second. (The maximum speed is presently 200 MB per second.)
  • Thin wire cable.
  • Hot plug and play capability. (You do not need to turn off a computer to connect and use a peripheral device.)
  • The ability to chain devices together in a number of different ways without terminators or complicated setup requirements.
  • The ability for IEEE 1394-compliant devices to connect together without the use of a computer (for example, when you are dubbing video tapes).
  • Asynchronous communication for batch or packet data transfer and storage.
  • Isochronous communication for real-time voice and video transmission, and any other program that is better-suited for streaming data transfer.
  • Devices as far apart as 4.5 meters (nearly 15 feet) can be connected.

IEEE 1394 on Windows XP

Windows XP has built-in IEEE 1394 support. To use all the capabilities of the IEEE 1394 standard, your computer must have an IEEE 1394 adapter installed. If your computer has a FireWire adapter, the adaptor is IEEE 1394 compatible. Some of the capabilities of a Windows XP-based computer with the IEEE 1394 standard are:
  • Instant network connectivity by plugging two or more computers together (no additional hardware or software required).
  • End-to-end throughput of over 50 Mbps with plenty of digital bandwidth remaining for demanding audio-visual programs.
  • Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) over IEEE 1394. This feature makes it very easy to share a single Internet connection when you connect one computer to the Internet and then connect more computers to the first computer. The Windows XP built-in Internet Connection Sharing feature provides the necessary software support.

    NOTE: Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX) and other networking protocols are not supported.
  • The ability to use IEEE 1394 drivers for peripheral devices. These drivers are provided by the manufacturers of the devices.


  • Windows XP comes with full support with IEEE 1394; you are not required to install any software. If you need to install an adapter, simply plug it in to an available adapter slot, and Windows XP completes the installation.
  • To install an IEEE 1394 device, your computer must have an IEEE 1394 adapter. If it does, then you are only required to plug in the device.
  • The IEEE 1394 drivers that you may need are provided by the manufacturer. Most IEEE 1394 devices do not need special drivers.

Article ID: 310433 - Last Review: 12/01/2007 01:59:46 - Revision: 2.4

  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
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