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Sony adds data protection to 1394

Firewire finally ready to become digital consumer electronics standard

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Sony is to build copy protection protocols into its next IEEE 1394 (aka FireWire) chips, the CXD-3204 and CXD-3205. Sony's chosen security scheme is the Digital Transmission Content Protection (DTCP) protocol, also backed by Matsushita, Intel and Toshiba. Getting DTCP into shipping product will give the technology a major lead on its main rival, XCA. XCA, backed by Zenith Electronics and Thomson Consumer Electronics, centres on the use of a smart card to decrypt digital data. That allows the encryption scheme to be regularly renewed, simply by issuing new smart cards to device owners. DTCP protects data passing through the 1394 channel from interception, duplication and unauthorised manipulation. Adding it to a 1394 interface chip is seen as a major boost for the connectivity technology in the wider consumer electronics arena, connecting video and hi-fi units as well as the more commonplace Firewire devices like digital camcorders. Many observers now believe the last obstacle to 1394 becoming the standard method of connecting consumer electronics kit has been crossed. ®

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