When Apple announced the new MacBook Pro at the end of February, there were just two Thunderbolt peripherals featured: The LaCie Little Big Disk and the Promise Pegasus. Both of these storage devices were on display at the NAB Show in Las Vegas last week, and each appeals to a different market segment. The 2-drive Little Big Disk is a portable matched up with the MacBook Pro, while the Promise Pegasus is a 4- or 6-drive desktop RAID system. Promise expects to deliver the Pegasus to the market sometime after the summer.
Promise Technology is a storage company that should be familiar to many Mac users, since Apple sells their rackmount RAID units as a replacement for their canceled Xserve RAID. Most of Promise’s storage products are larger devices intended for business use, but the company does make a line of smaller desktop RAID systems called the SmartStor.
The new Pegasus storage systems from Promise are Thunderbolt versions of the company’s latest 4- and 6-drive SmartStor lineup. Unlike LaCie, Promise’s SmartStor drives are available in a “bring your own drive” model, allowing consumers to use whatever hard disk drive they desire. This reduces the initial cost of purchase but also raises compatibility and support headaches, since customers may use unsupported or mismatched hard disk drives.
Although some SmartStor devices offer NAS connectivity, the Pegasus is a direct attached storage (DAS) device with no Ethernet connectivity possible. In fact, the Pegasus appears very simple in the flesh, with nothing but two Thunderbolt ports and a power outlet around the back. Promise will sell two models of the Pegasus Thunderbolt RAID storage system: the 4-bay Pegasus R4, and the 6-bay Pegasus R6.
Inside, the Pegasus features seven different RAID modes, including high-performance striping (RAID 0), drive mirroring (RAID1), single or dual drive parity raid (RAID 5 and 6, respectively), and stacked raid 10, 50, and 60.
Promise suggests 800 MB per second throughput, though only a stripe set of six drives is likely to deliver this kind of speed. RAID-protected data will likely come in below 200 MB per second, even for the 6-drive unit. This is still much faster than any USB or FireWire drive, and likely beats LaCie’s 2-drive Little Big Disk as well. But it is unfortunate that such lofty performance numbers are promised, if you pardon the pun.
The Promise Pegasus was featured in many displays at NAB, and appears nearly ready for production. We look forward to experimenting with the final product and putting it through its paces, since it will likely be the fastest Thunderbolt product on the market for a while. Although the Pegasus is luggable, it is not exactly a portable device like the Little Big Disk. This is not a criticism: It is good that two distinct devices will come to market rather than a raft of similar products. Like LaCie, Promise is setting the standard for the products that will follow.