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thunderbolt IBC

There is Thunderbolt everywhere at IBC 2012 and we thought we would look at the storage vendors that are relevant to the Final Cut Pro market and catch up on new models, new capacities, new speeds and even a skydiver dropping a unit mid dive too.

We will start with LaCie who were exhibiting updated versions of their very desirable Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series. We have seen these drives before and lusted after them before! On the stand they had two SSD drives daisy chained together to achieve a read speed of over 1000 MBs. Because the model features dual Thunderbolt ports, you can loop them together or pass through to other peripherals such as I/O boxes or monitors. The new 512GB SATA III SSD will retail at approximately €700 and the 1TB model at €1500. Both models will be available late September/early November. We like, a lot.

thunderbolt lacie ibc

Also new is the LaCie RuggedKey which isn't Thunderbolted, but it does have a USB3 connector for transfer speeds up to 150 MB/s. Available in two versions, a 16 GB key at $39 and 32 GB key at $69, data can be protected with secure AES 256-bit encryption. Models also come with a years subscription to LaCie's online backup service Wuala.

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Note the blue edge on the connector signalling USB3

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Did we mention that you can drop these things out of the sky and it will still work? Would have been better if the drive had hit the runway though!

No new models from Promise Technology, in fact the J2 and J4 Thunderbolt SSD drives that we previewed at NAB are still not shipping. The pocket sized J2 should ship at the end of this September, but the J4 has been held up due to performance issues.

promise j2 j4

We couldn't pass by this mammoth Promise 180 Terabyte VTrack SAN without taking a picture. Stuffed to the gunnels with 3 Terabyte drives, Fibre Channel gets shared out via two Mac Mini's each coupled to the storage with a SANlink unit.

thunderbolt promise ibc

ATTO have the same idea and their ThunderLink & ThunderStream products. Thunderlink will convert a 8Gb/s Fibre Channel connection to Thunderbolt making it one of the easiest ways to get a Thunderbolt MacBook Pro or iMac connected to an existing fibre channel based SAN. The unit will take copper or optical fibre connectors, automatically negotiate 8Gb, 4Gb and 2Gb devices and work with most configurations such as arbitrated loop, point to point and direct fabric/switch attached. ThunderLink can also convert Thunderbolt to 10GB Ethernet or 6 GB SAS/SATA, but you'll need one box per type of connection.

Similar is the ThunderStream which connects 6Gb/s SAS RAID devices. 

thunderbolt atto ibc

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At the show, ATTO had a ThunderStream connected to two G-Technology RAIDS and an iMac with an AJA IO connected via the Thunderbolt loop. Also connected was a HP LT05 tape drive which are becoming a popular archive solution now that the unit almost acts like a disk.

thunderbolt atto3 ibc

The models available are:

  • ThunderLink SAS Desklink Devices (Model No.TLSH-1068-D00, MSRP $795.00)
    SAS Desklink devices provide flexible connectivity to SAS/SATA storage arrays. They are the premier choice for high-performance direct-attached storage connectivity.

  • ThunderLink Fibre Channel Desklink Devices (Model No.TLFC-1082-D00, MSRP $1,195.00)
    Fibre Channel Desklink devices provide connectivity for Thunderbolt technology enabled computers to Fibre Channel SANs and direct access to enterprise class storage with support for high availability features such as load-balancing and failover.

  • ThunderLink 10Gb Ethernet Desklink Devices (10GBASE-T - Model: TLNT-1102- D00, MSRP $995; 10GbE SFP+ - Model: TLNS-1101-D00, MSRP $1,195.00)
    10GbE Desklink devices provide the most flexible and scalable connectivity for network environments. ThunderLink devices also deliver high performance I/O connectivity and Lossless Ethernet support for improved iSCSI block storage access.

  • ThunderStream RAID Desklink Devices (Model: TSSC-3808-D00, MSRP $1,295.00) ThunderStream Storage Controllers add ATTO’s industry leading RAID technology to SAS/SATA based drive arrays. This allows users to add data protection with a high- performance inter-connect to a Thunderbolt technology enabled platform. They are also available in an embeddable form factor for RAID storage manufacturers and providers 


No new models on the G-Technolgy stand, although they were showing a similar to ATTO but beefier configuration of 4 GSpeed eSPro units hooked up via an ATTO card in a MacPro hidden out of view underneath the desk. What you can see is Adobe Premiere playing back 4k material. The G-RAID with Thunderbolt is still their only Thunderbolt storage device.

thunderbolt Gtech ibc

Last, but not least is CalDigit. We feel bad putting them last as they were the only company who had press kits in the press office the day before the show opened. They have two new Thunderbolt products, the first being the T1. 

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The CalDigit T1 takes single drives in hot swappable modules which means not only can you swop out drives in a suite, but you can also transfer them between suites and locations too. Drives can be regular 3.5" HDD or 2.5" SSD which will give a speed of up to 170 MB/s and 470 MB/s a second respectively. Nice to see a second Thunderbolt port on the back.

thunderbolt caldigit2

For even faster speeds and RAID options there is the CalDigit T2 which we assume you will instantly realise is very similar to the T1 but can accomodate two disks. Disk speeds up to 630 MB/s with SSD drives installed and up to 330 MB/s with 3.5" HDDs.

The T2 can do a bit more though; The disks can be set to RAID 0, 1 and JBOD, which means if you want added security then you can have the disks mirrored. Should one drive fail, you can slip it out, put a new disk in and rebuild.

Both the T1 and T2 include Thunder View, a custom iOS app that lets you configure the unit, benchmark test and monitor the performance of the drive from your iPhone or iPad.

thunderbolt caldigit thunder view

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So lots to choose from if you are considering Thunderbolt storage, no doubt there will be even higher capacity, faster units at NAB next year. Thank you to all the manufacturers and staff on the stands for the information. Just for the record, LaCie were not the only vendor showing FCPX, so if anybody says it wasn't at the show, they were wrong.

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