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The Next Generation

FireWire promises to play an even more important role in the future, as an easy way to connect a vast array of consumer electronics--stereo equipment, televisions, and computers--to create a fast multimedia home network. The advent of the IEEE 1394b standard--the next generation of FireWire--will address several networking issues. These advances, combined with developments in intelligent switching and mass-storage technology, bode well for FireWire's future as a video-networking technology.

Also, changes in FireWire cabling will increase both the capacity for long-distance links (through fiber and copper) and bus speeds for bandwidths beyond 800 Mbps. This mark will put FireWire's rate well beyond the faster theoretical peaks of all other competing technologies, including that of the much-heralded USB2. In addition, the IEEE 1394b specification aims to tackle the complex world of printers.

Furthermore, there's a move underway toward delivering video content on demand over the standard Internet protocol (IP) systems directly to the personal video recorders (PVRs) inside your home--anything from a WebTV set-top device to a Sony PlayStation 2 game system. Because many of these PVR devices will be equipped with FireWire, movie lovers will be able to download an entire file, view it at their leisure in full-screen, full-motion HD clarity on either a traditional tube or a PC monitor, and effortlessly move it between devices in their home--or even their cars.

As a filmmaker, should this scare you? Not if you consider a tiny pay-per-view audience for a single film might be as profitable and easy to serve from your own network as a distribution deal with a Hollywood studio or cable TV company.


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