Skip to Content

What color is the IEEE 1394 cable end quizlet?


The IEEE 1394 cable, also known as FireWire or i.LINK, is a high-speed serial bus interface standard that was developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It is commonly used for connecting peripherals to personal computers and consumer electronics such as digital cameras, external hard drives, and DVD players. The cable ends come in different colors which denote their type and capabilities. Identifying the color coding is important to ensure you are using the right cable for your devices.

Common IEEE 1394 Cable Colors

Here are some of the most common IEEE 1394 cable end colors and what they signify:

Color Meaning
Gray 400 Mbps speed
Blue 400 Mbps speed with power
Green 800 Mbps speed
Red 800 Mbps speed with power
Purple 1600 Mbps speed
Yellow 1600 Mbps speed with power

The gray and blue cables are the earlier and slower 400 Mbps versions. The green, red, purple and yellow are newer and faster options. The cables with power allow devices to be powered through the FireWire connection without needing a separate power cord.

Identifying Cable Speed

The color of the IEEE 1394 cable end denotes its speed capabilities:

  • Gray = 400 Mbps (Megabits per second)
  • Green = 800 Mbps
  • Purple = 1600 Mbps

The higher the Mbps, the faster data can be transferred through the cable. So an 800 Mbps cable will have roughly double the maximum transfer speed of a 400 Mbps cable.

Powered vs. Non-Powered Cables

Some IEEE 1394 cables have colored ends but also provide power over the cable. This allows connected devices like external hard drives to be powered through the FireWire port connection.

  • Blue cables provide 400 Mbps speed and power.
  • Red cables provide 800 Mbps speed and power.
  • Yellow cables provide 1600 Mbps speed and power.

If a device requires power over FireWire, be sure to use a powered cable rather than a non-powered version. Using a non-powered cable could result in the device not functioning properly.

Connector Types

IEEE 1394 cables come with different connector ends to plug into devices:

  • 4-pin – This is the smaller mini connector commonly used on cameras and other portable devices.
  • 6-pin – The standard connector for desktop computers and larger peripherals.
  • 9-pin – Typically used for 800 and 1600 Mbps cables to allow for the higher speeds.

Make sure to match the appropriate connector type to the ports on your devices. Using a 4-pin cable on a 6-pin port will not make a proper connection.

Common Uses for IEEE 1394 Cables

Some of the most common uses for the various types of IEEE 1394 cables include:

  • Gray 400 Mbps – Connecting FireWire external hard drives, standard definition camcorders.
  • Blue 400 Mbps powered – Connecting bus-powered FireWire drives.
  • Green 800 Mbps – Connecting high definition cameras, faster hard drives.
  • Red 800 Mbps powered – Connecting bus-powered HD cameras.
  • Purple 1600 Mbps – Connecting HD video equipment, fastest external drives.
  • Yellow 1600 Mbps powered – Connecting bus-powered HD video gear.

Matching your IEEE 1394 cable to the speed and power needs of your devices will allow you to maximize FireWire’s capabilities.

Finding the Right IEEE 1394 Cable

When purchasing an IEEE 1394 cable, check the specs to ensure it matches the requirements of your devices:

  • Speed – 400, 800 or 1600 Mbps rating.
  • Power – Is power over cable needed?
  • Connectors – 4-pin, 6-pin or 9-pin.
  • Cable length – Longer cables result in some speed loss.

Consult your hardware manuals to find the speed, power and connector requirements. Purchase a cable that meets or exceeds the specifications.

USB vs. IEEE 1394

USB cables have largely replaced FireWire cables in most consumer hardware. However, IEEE 1394 is still used for some professional video cameras and audio equipment. Some key differences:

  • USB maxes out at 640 Mbps for USB 3.2 while 1394b hits 1600 Mbps.
  • USB uses a tree structure network while 1394 uses point-to-point links.
  • 1394 offers some advantages for real-time data streaming.
  • USB requires drivers while 1394 works without drivers.

For most computers and peripherals like external drives, USB is the best choice. But IEEE 1394 still has some advantages for high-speed multimedia uses.


Identifying the color coding on IEEE 1394 FireWire cables is important to match them to your devices’ speed and power requirements. The cable end colors denote the transfer rates and powered vs. non-powered cables. Purchasing the proper IEEE 1394 cable with adequate speed, power and connector types will allow you to optimize the performance of your FireWire devices. While less common today, IEEE 1394 still serves an important role for high-speed multimedia connectivity.