MACWORLD - Apple to introduce 800M bps Firewire ports?

Several hours after announcing that it is introducing desktop hard drives that connect to Apple Computer computers using the new high-speed 800M bps (bits per second) FireWire standard, SmartDisk asked that the news be "killed due to premature release."

The aborted news suggests that Steve Jobs, chief executive officer of Apple, may announce FireWire2, or FireWire 800, in his keynote speech at MacWorld Expo Tuesday.

FireWire2 is the next generation of the Apple-invented standard. It supports data transfer at 800M bps and is backwards-compatible with computers and peripherals that support FireWire 1.

SmartDisk's drive also has a USB (Universal Serial Bus) 2.0 port to connect to suitably equipped Windows PCs.

Neither SmartDisk nor Apple were immediately available to comment on the announcement and its subsequent withdrawal. Apple is being "extremely tight" in advance of Tuesday's keynote and analysts are in the dark about what will be announced, IDC analyst Roger Kay said Monday.

Kay is unimpressed with the promise of Firewire2. "I don't know what we need it for. FireWire is really fast already, and data is only as fast as your slowest link -- your PC or your modem or cable line." However, its high transfer speeds are likely to be useful in storage and back-up products, he said.

SmartDisk FirePower will be demonstrated at SmartDisk's booth at MacWorld Expo in Las Vegas this week, the company said in its original release. With a capacity of 200G bytes, FirePower can store large files, such as those used in digital video authoring and other multimedia applications, it said.

FirePower has an 8MB cache for faster data retrieval and will be available in March. It will work with FireWire 800 and 400-equipped Macintosh computers, as well as Windows-based USB 2.0 PCs, the statement said.

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