LaCie looks to be the first out of the gate with a Thunderbolt storage system. They promise to deliver their Little Big Disk portable RAID storage device sometime this summer, and the polished look of the devices on display at the NAB show suggests that they will meet this target.
Hello, Little Big Disk
The Little Big Disk is a portable RAID storage device featuring two hard disk drives or flash solid-state disks (SSD). On display at NAB was a two-drive 1 TB hard disk drive RAID featuring 7200 rpm drives. This will be the initial product to market, with the SSD devices following later.
LaCie’s demonstration at NAB was impressive, but not really a real-world scenario. They had four Little big disk devices daisychained off a single Thunderbolt port, each configured as RAID 0 for maximum performance. These eight hard disk drives were able to deliver over 800 MB per second to Apple’s Final Cut Pro.
But real-world users will likely configure the drives as RAID 1 mirrors for data protection, and the Thunderbolt port does not have enough power to spin up this many drives without external power bricks. Therefore, most Little Big Disk buyers will experience less-mindbending performance – around 100 MB per second. Although not quite as fast as some might hope, this still leaves USB and FireWire in the dust, making this new product the fastest official external storage device available for a MacBook Pro. It’s just too bad Apple doesn’t support USB 3, however, since some USB 3 devices already push past 200 MB per second.
Since Thunderbolt was introduced on a portable device, the Apple MacBook Pro, first, it makes sense that a portable storage product should be the first peripheral to market. The LaCie Little Big Disk looks like an excellent combination of data protection, portability, and performance, and will likely sell like hot cakes once it is released. LaCie should be applauded for targeting the right niche to start out, as well as for their early access to the Thunderbolt technology from Apple and Intel. I look forward to seeing what products they follow on with.