FireWire vs Thunderbolt: Difference and Comparison

In the 21st century, technology has seen rapid growth. Each day, innovations are made in almost every field because of the advent of technology.

This has enabled the development of new kinds of products very often.  With so many different kinds of products being available to the product, the public is faced with many options, which confuses them.

The advent of technology has made so many changes in every field, especially in electronic devices. For instance, the total number of personal computer connections available in the market in the last few years is too high.

Talking about the enormous effect of technology on electronic devices, it is worth discussing the interfaces that help establish communication between electronic devices.

The two most popular used devices that help in the communication process with other electronic devices are FireWire and Thunderbolt. People are confused between the two when given the option to choose one of the two.

Key Takeaways

  1. FireWire is an older, high-speed data transfer technology developed by Apple, primarily used for connecting digital devices like camcorders and external hard drives to computers.
  2. Thunderbolt is a newer, versatile, high-speed connection technology developed by Intel and Apple, capable of transmitting data, video, and power through a single cable and supporting a wide range of peripherals.
  3. The main differences between FireWire and Thunderbolt include their speed, versatility, and adoption, with Thunderbolt offering faster data transfer rates and broader compatibility than FireWire.

FireWire vs. Thunderbolt

Firewire is a data transfer interface used to transfer data ta a high speed between different peripheral devices. It requires a special port for building the connection. Thunderbolt transfers data in Gbps at a much higher speed. Thunderbolt devices can be connected through a single cable.

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFireWireThunderbolt
MeaningFireWire is a serial bus that helps connect devices to personal computers with high performance and better performance.Thunderbolt is a hardware interface that enables any external peripherals to be able to be connected to a computer.
Data Transfer SpeedThe data transferring speed of FireWire is 400 to 800 Mbps.The data transferring speed of Thunderbolt is 10Gbps.
CurrentThe maximum current of FireWire is 1.5A.The maximum current of Thunderbolt is 0.55A.
Designed byApple Inc designs fireWire.Apple and Intel design Thunderbolt.
DevicesFireWire can tie up with up to 63 devices.Thunderbolt can tie up with up to 6 devices.
VoltageThe maximum voltage of FireWire is 30V.The maximum voltage of Thunderbolt is 18V.


What is FireWire?

FireWire is a well-renowned serial bus that is used daily. It has become popular not just on Windows PCs but also on the Apple platform.

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There are various advantages of FireWire. It supports a peer-to-peer connection.

This makes it possible for a more stable throughput of data. This is mainly because FireWire does not waste much of its bandwidth.

Another major advantage is that there are lesser latencies. Some FireWire interfaces offer very high I/O counts.

This is another advantage of FireWire. Moreover, it has thin serial cables.

FireWire helps to connect other devices easily without requiring any prior or difficult setup.  Because the FireWire has so many advantages, it is used in large studios for a great period.

The FireWire interfaces enable transferring data among various devices at high speed. It is the Apple version of the IEEE 1394 standard.

Apple has designed FireWire. There are two kinds of FireWire.

One is FireWire 4, a 6-pin connector, and the other is FireWire 800, which is 9 pin connector. However, FireWire has its disadvantage.

It requires more two-way communication between the devices at each end of the connection. This makes the chances of a potential failure high because of the high number of potential points.


What is Thunderbolt?

The latest technology used to connect an external device to computers is Thunderbolt. It is one of the most popular devices used for auto-recording interfaces and pro video devices.

It is fast replacing the FireWire. It is used to tie up to 6 devices.

It can provide 10 watts of power to these devices. Thunderbolt can chain up to six devices, be it external hard devices, high-definition monitors, hubs, docks, high-end audio interfaces or expansion chassis, and many more.

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Using Thunderbolt, transferring data at the same speed, i.e., of 10Gbps, is possible. This speed is higher as compared to the speed of FireWire.

Also, it is possible to stream 8 720p of video simultaneously. Thunderbolt is a very new technology and is still in the process of evolving rapidly.

It is expensive compared to FireWire. Apple and Intel have designed Thunderbolt.

There are various advantages of Thunderbolt. One of the common reasons that Thunderbolt is used is because it is protocol compatible with FireWire.

This means that Thunderbolt has a lot of the same feature sets. This makes connecting older FireWire devices to the computer possible via a suitable adaptor.


Main Differences Between FireWire and Thunderbolt

  1. FireWire is a serial bus that connects devices to personal computers. On the other hand, Thunderbolt is an interface that connects external peripherals to a computer.
  2. The maximum voltage is 30V for a FireWire, while on the other hand, the maximum voltage is 18V for a Thunderbolt.
  3. The number of devices that FireWire can chain is up to 63; on the other hand, the number of devices that Thunderbolt can chain is up to 6.
  4. FireWire transfers data at a speed of 400 to 800 Mbps whereas on the other hand, Thunderbolt transfers data at a speed of 10 Gbps.
  5. The designer of FireWire is Apple Inc. On the hand, the designers of Thunderbolt are Apple and Intel.
  6. The highest current of FireWire is 1.5A, whereas the highest current of Thunderbolt is 0.55A.
Difference Between FireWire and Thunderbolt


Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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22 thoughts on “FireWire vs Thunderbolt: Difference and Comparison”

  1. I thought this comparison was very detailed and informative, however I would say FireWire is still widely used because it can tie up with more devices.

  2. The article isn’t that informative about either FireWire or Thunderbolt, but provides an interesting look at how each is used.

  3. The article does a great job of explaing the differences between firewire and thunderbolt, who knew Thunderbolt had a max current of 0.55A?

  4. As someone who isn’t familiar with FireWire or Thunderbolt, this was a great introduction to two fascinating technologies.


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