What Is a FireWire® Ethernet Adapter?

Alexis Rohlin

A FireWire® Ethernet adapter is a type of computer networking bus. It is capable of sending FireWire®-formatted signals through an Ethernet or Category 5 (CAT5) cable to another FireWire® adapter. Another name for a FireWire® Ethernet adapter is a FireWire® CAT5 repeater.

Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.
Cat 5 cable with RJ45 plug.

Typically, FireWire® connection cables are only 15 feet (4.6 m) long. To utilize the more cost-effective CAT5 Ethernet cables to establish longer network connections in large buildings, a FireWire® Ethernet adapter can send formatted data with Ethernet cables. A FireWire® Ethernet adapter is not capable of translating the data from FireWire® formatting to Ethernet formatting, however. The other end of the Ethernet cable cannot be directly plugged into the receiving computer's Ethernet port.

Laptops often have Ethernet ports.
Laptops often have Ethernet ports.

FireWire® is a high-speed data connection serial bus that is used to connect devices to a computer. It also can be used to connect several computers together in a local area network (LAN) so that users can quickly exchange data. Before Ethernet LAN connections were invented, FireWire® was used to set up a LAN that linked computers for online gaming and data transfer.

There are three types of FireWire® connectors. Desktop computers use a six-pin rectangular connector. Laptops or notebooks use a four-pin square connector. Computer devices that utilize the faster FireWire® 800 have a nine-pin plug on one end and a six-pin plug on the other for backward compatibility.

As an alternative to using a FireWire® Ethernet adapter, a circuit board or card with an attached Ethernet port and FireWire® port can be installed in a computer tower. This type of circuit board allows the simultaneous attachment of a device that uses FireWire® and a device that uses Ethernet cables. For example, a digital video camera FireWire® can be plugged into a computer that is connected to an Ethernet LAN. The saved video in the camera can then be sent to another user on the LAN.

Many computers still allow users to directly plug in an Ethernet cable.
Many computers still allow users to directly plug in an Ethernet cable.

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Discussion Comments


I have a real problem. I need to find a way for a large format plotter with only USB or Ethernet ports to be connected to a Firewire network or device. Is there some kind of converter I can buy? I've been looking for days for a plotter with integrated Firewire, but they all went EOL more than a year ago. If you have something, please post and I'll look for it.

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