Thunderbolt storage drives to strike later in 2013
By Jim Galbraith
Intel’s high speed Thunderbolt interconnect technology, found primarily on Apple’s side of the computing fence, enjoyed a big week at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas. As the push for higher-resolution video continues to grow, so do the file sizes, making the need for faster sustainable throughput ever greater.
Which is why Intel chose NAB—the annual get-together for video pros with high-end equipment demands—to announce that the next generation of Thunderbolt is coming. It will double throughput from today’s 10Gb per second to 20Gb per second.
A faster Thunderbolt is obviously big news for the peripheral-connection technology that made its debut two years ago. But it wasn’t the only Thunderbolt-centric news to come out of NAB 2013. Here’s a round-up of other product announcements coming out of Las Vegas—most of which centering around storage—that you may have missed.
Blackmagic Design showed off its new MulitDock, a rackmounted drive enclosure with docking slots that allow for easy insertion and mounting of drives. The MultiDock connects to your Mac or PC via Thunderbolt and allows you to pop in up to four 2.5-inch hard drives or SSDs as if they were cartridges. Once inserted, you can create RAID arrays with the drives or simply use them individually.
Sonnet Technology showed its latest Thunderbolt expansion products, the Echo Express III-D and III-R, which let you plug up to three full length, full height, PCIe expansion cards (like those that people used to plug into Mac Pros until Apple apparently forgot that it sold pro desktops). The D and R in the product names refer to the form factor: The D is a desktop enclosure and the R is a 2U rackmount enclosure. They’ll cost $979 and $1179, respectively, when they ship this August.
CalDigit announced its new T3 RAID, a three-drive external enclosure that attaches to your Mac via Thunderbolt. It features two Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining other Thunderbolt peripherals and removable drive trays, which make it easy to swap drives out in case of failure or when you want to upgrade. You can configure the T3 RAID as RAID 0 for speed, use two of the drives in a mirrored RAID 1 array, or use all three as independent drives. The T3 RAID will be available in both SSD and HDD configurations. Due in July, prices for the hard drive versions will be $699 for 6TB and $1199 for a 12TB model; CalDigit has not finalized prices for the SSD configuration.
CalDigit also showed off its new Thunderbolt Station which offers owners of Thunderbolt-equipped Macs and PCs similar connection options as Apple’s Thunderbolt Display. Simply connect one Thunderbolt cable from the dock to your Mac and you now have access to three USB 3.0 ports, another Thunderbolt port, gigabit ethernet, HDMI, and separate audio in and out ports. The Thunderbolt station should also be available in July of this year for $199.
G-Technology used the show to introduce the G-Drive Pro with Thunderbolt. This desktop hard drive has dual Thunderbolt ports for daisy-chaining devices. G-Technology claims speeds comparable to SSD, but with the high capacities of standard hard drives. Two configurations of the G-Drive Pro with Thunderbolt, a 2TB and 4TB version, will be available this Summer at $700 and $850, respectively.
Also new from G-Technology, is the G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt, the first of the company’s new Evolution line of storage products. The G-Dock ev comes with two removable 1TB hard drive modules that fit into the dock and can be configured as RAID 0, RAID 1, or JBOD. When not inserted into the G-Dock ev, the modules can be used with USB 3.0, making it easy to shuttle drives back and forth. Fill them with data quickly with Thunderbolt, and then connect them to just about any computer using USB.
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