In sustained throughput FireWire is faster than USB 2.0.
Differences in the architecture of the two interfaces have a huge impact on the sustained throughput.
FireWire, uses a "Peer-to-Peer" architecture in which the peripherals are intelligent and can negotiate bus conflicts to determine which device can best control a data transfer.
Hi-Speed USB 2.0 uses a "Master-Slave" architecture in which the computer handles all arbitration functions and dictates data flow to, from and between the attached peripherals (adding additional system overhead and resulting in slower data flow control)
FireWire vs. USB 2.0 Hard Drive Performance Comparison
Read and write tests to the same IDE hard drive connected using FireWire and then Hi-Speed USB 2.0 show:
5000 files (300 MB total) FireWire was 33% faster than USB 2.0
160 files (650MB total) FireWire was 70% faster than USB 2.0
5000 files (300 MB total) FireWire was 16% faster than USB 2.0
160 files (650MB total) FireWire was 48% faster than USB 2.0
Often the choice will be made for you by the product itself. Some types of products are only available with the FireWire interface and some only with USB.
For all out sustained throughput, as shown above a FireWire external hard drive will provide the best performance. But for convenience and compatibility between multiple computers a USB 2.0 external hard drive would probably be the better choice (since practically every computer has a USB port).
Better yet, get both interfaces- allowing you to connect products with either interface to your computer. And a combo FireWire USB 2.0 External drive gives you best of both worlds...you can have the highest hard drive speed when connected to a FireWire port, and also the broad compatibility of USB.
One product category that USB currently has an advantage in is capturing video tape for DVD. Using hardware MPEG encoders, USB video capture products are able to convert VHS to DVD video.
Last update: 09:30 AM Saturday, March 3, 2007