Difference Between FireWire and Thunderbolt

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


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

The advent of technology has made so many changes in every field and especially when it comes to electronic devices. For instance, the total number of personal computer connections that have been available in the market since the last few years are 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.

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

FireWire vs Thunderbolt

The difference between FireWire and Thunderbolt is that the speed at which Thunderbolt transfers data is 10Gbps. On the other hand, the rate at which FireWire transfers data is 400 to 800 Mbps. FireWire is more commonly used and is slower whereas Thunderbolt is less commonly used and is faster and better performing than FireWire.

Firewire vs Thunderbolt


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonFireWireThunderbolt
MeaningFireWire is basically a serial bus which helps to connect devices to personal computers with performance really high and better.Thunderbolt is a hardware interface which 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 byFireWire is designed by Apple Inc.Thunderbolt is designed by Apple and Intel.
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 which is often used on a day to day basis. It has become popular on not just Windows PCs but on the Apple platform as well.

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

This makes it possible for more stability 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 often used in large studios for a great period of time.

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

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

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

It requires more by way of 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 and is used most commonly for auto-recording interfaces and pro video devices.

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

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

Using Thunderbolt it is possible to transfer data both ways at the same speed, i.e, of 10Gbps. 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 as compared to FireWire. Thunderbolt has been designed by Apple and Intel.

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 it possible to connect older FireWire devices to the computer via a suitable adaptor


Main Differences Between FireWire and Thunderbolt

  1. FireWire is a serial bus that is used to connects devices to personal computers. On the other hand, Thunderbolt is an interface which 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 whereas, 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


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6153759/
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