1394 Trade Association Reports Rapid Progress

Citing large crowds of design engineers and consumers at its World PC Expo Pavilion in Japan last week, Texas Instruments' James Snider, chairman of the 1394 Trade Association, predicted a surge in product design based on the 1394/FireWire/i.Link standard in the coming year. Snider says that the demand for 1394 PC and consumer products is accelerating worldwide "as users become aware of the quality of video and audio that can be easily and efficiently transported in home, office, and theater environments."

This year's 1394 Pavilion included audio systems from Yamaha and Kenwood. Snider claims that the 1394 exhibit was "easily the most popular trade organization pavilion at World PC Expo this year. All week, engineers and consumers packed the theater presentation, with overflow crowds watching a demo that moved very-high-quality video and audio running efficiently over a common cable, and all controlled by a personal computer."

Yoshi Sawada of Yamaha comments that "The participating companies worked together very well as a team to bring together audio equipment, controller software, and video hardware that clearly demonstrated the interoperability of different products over the 1394 bus." Yamaha began showing 1394-endowed audio products two years ago, at the 1997 Comdex trade show, and has been a primary developer of 1394 applications for the consumer market.

1394 pioneers Digital Harmony have also been making inroads with the format, having announced license arrangements with several consumer-electronics companies, including Meridian, Denon, Madrigal, and Boston Acoustics. Mark Bridgwater, marketing VP for DH, says that "Our new reference system, to be unveiled at CES 2000, will be a show-stopper and, more important, made up of products to be released by our licensees next year. 1394-based interoperability is finally here!"

Chip manufacturer Via Technologies, which announced that its 1394 chipset will be available in early 2000, predicts that 40% of all personal computers will include the 1394/FireWire/i.Link standard by the end of 2000. Texas Instruments says it expects to sell 1394 silicon into 24 million PCs in 2000. Randy Trost of TI states that "Up to this point, 1394 PCs have been primarily higher-end consumer PCs. In 2000, with the drop in silicon prices, TI expects to see sub-$1000 PCs coming online with 1394."