The LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 RAID Series for Speedy Mega-Storage

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Born from the synthesis between two independent computer hard drive companies in the mid 1990s, LaCie has been dedicated to the creation of high-quality external computer storage solutions ever since. Although LaCie offers a handful of products for the PC, the company mainly manufactures external storage devices designed for Mac computers. Similar to Apple’s approach, LaCie combines innovative technology with a sophisticated design aesthetic. This successful synergy is what sets LaCie apart from its competition. Creative professions that involve music, video, and photography require individuals with a discerning eye for style and artistic vision, so it makes sense that LaCie has remained dedicated to beautiful design since the company’s inception. The mission statement even declares that the brand uses an amalgamation of “design and technology” to create “products that are both beautiful and performance-driven.”

The subtly sophisticated, ultra-reliable, and powerful 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 RAID Series multi-drive storage solutions are a perfect example of LaCie’s equally weighted dedication to design and technological performance. The 8big is an eight-bay, 1U rack-ready RAID array storage system housed in an understated, yet striking, all-metal enclosure with a modern aluminum front panel that is designed to match the brushed-aluminum aesthetic of Apple’s product line. The LaCie 8big Rack storage system is available in a 12TB, 24TB, or 48TB configuration. All three capacity choices ship with hot-swappable 7200 rpm disk drives that feature a 64MB cache. The 12TB model features four 3TB disk drives, while the 24TB enclosure has eight 3TB drives. The flagship 48TB model houses eight 6TB disk drives.

Throughout the Nineties, companies began to realize that industrial design was as important to selling computer electronics as the technology inside. Like Apple, LaCie was on the forefront of this industry shift. While other tech companies were still housing external hard drives in ugly, cost-saving plastic enclosures, LaCie was hiring accomplished designers like Philippe Starck and Neil Poulton to create innovative, highly stylized all-metal external hard drive enclosures. Twenty years later, LaCie continues to stay true to its mission statement. Long-time LaCie collaborator Neil Poulton is the designer behind the striking 8big storage system. The 1U rack-ready 8big is wrapped entirely in an all-metal enclosure with a clean, brushed-aluminum front panel, highlighted by a single blue power-status LED indicator. The front panel also features a recessed lower column where eight blue disk-status LED indicators are hidden, as well as two blue Thunderbolt 2 connection LED indicators, a blue ID LED, and an orange alarm LED indicator with mute button.

"Creative professionals with critical data to protect and limited space for work will find everything they’re looking for in the compact 8big Rack unit."

Under the hood, the LaCie 8big is equally impressive. It utilizes ultra-fast Thunderbolt 2 interface technology, which outperforms fiber channel connectivity for editing RAW 4K video. Thunderbolt 2 connectivity supports bi-directional transfer rates up to 20Gbps. The 8big has a second Thunderbolt 2 port that supports daisy-chaining of up to six additional Thunderbolt-equipped peripheral devices to your computer via a single Thunderbolt cable. Since Thunderbolt 2 supports DisplayPort 1.2 connectivity as well, you’ll be able to daisy-chain a high-resolution 4K display to your workstation. This allows creative professionals to simultaneously display and edit RAW 4K video in real time. One figure that really caught my attention is the amount of storage capacity daisy-chaining allows you to add to your workstation. If you wanted, you could connect up to 36 LaCie 8big Rack systems to your Mac Pro, since the Mac Pro has six integrated Thunderbolt 2 ports. This means that creative professionals using a Mac Pro workstation could theoretically have access to 1,728TB (just over 1.7PB) of useable file storage and over 3000MB/s of transfer performance speed―all in a compact 36U-rack setup.

Used individually, LaCie’s 8big supports read speeds of up to 1330MB/s and write speeds of up to 1060MB/s. To be more specific, the 12TB 8big enclosure in a RAID 0 configuration maxes out at 800MB/s for reading and 900MB/s for writing. The 24TB and 48TB 8big models both support 1330MB/s and 1060MB/s maximum read and write speeds when using RAID 0. Read and write speeds this fast ensure that creative professionals will enjoy faster file transfers and data-backup sessions than ever before.

Another benefit not to be overlooked is the simplicity of Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. In the past, videographers using a fiber channel interface for editing would have to deal with HBAs (host bus adapters) and port mapping or multi-pathing issues. Thunderbolt 2 has none of these problems, which makes it a truly simple plug-and-play interface option. Since Thunderbolt 2 also supports optical cabling, connection distances can be increased, as well. If you had to, you could connect your LaCie 8big Rack unit to a computer workstation that’s up to 197 feet (60 meters) away from your gear rack.

Up to this point, we’ve focused mainly on the 8big’s striking Neil Poulton-designed exterior and its impressive transfer-performance potential, thanks to integrated dual Thunderbolt 2 interfaces. However, data protection and reliable, fail-safe performance are just as important when considering a multi-disk RAID storage enclosure system. Since some files are critically important and cannot risk being lost, and some data you just want to back up as quickly as possible, it’s important that your RAID system offer maximum configuration flexibility. That’s why the 8big storage device supports multiple RAID configurations. You can choose from a RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6 or RAID 10 storage mode. The system supports an independent JBOD configuration as well.

RAID 0, or striping, allows you to split data evenly across two of the 8big’s disk drives for faster backup times. Although this option doesn’t support simultaneous parity or doubling of your data, it provides a fast alternative to traditional single-disk data backup workflows. The 8big also supports RAID 1, or mirroring backup. This method, which is ideal for storing or backing up more critical data, lets you back up identical data onto two separate drives simultaneously. For incorporating more disk drives into your backup workflows, the 8big can employ RAID 5, 6, and 10 configurations, as well.

RAID 5 provides striping with parity. This means that like RAID 0, the storage system allows data to be stored simultaneously across multiple drives for faster backup speeds. However, RAID 5 features distributed parity, which means that the backup process is duplicated by the extra drives. Basically, it doesn’t matter if one drive goes down or malfunctions during the backup process, since your data is protected from a single drive failure. RAID 5 is a cost-effective solution for providing speedy backup performance, as well as storage redundancy. RAID 6 is similar to RAID 5 except for the fact that it supports block-level striping with double distributed parity. This configuration ensures safe data backup, even if two disk drives fail during the backup process.

Another backup option supported by the LaCie 8big is RAID 10, which provides striping across multiple drives simultaneously for speed. RAID 10 also offers redundancy, thanks to multi-disk mirroring or doubling of data for added safety during backup. This mode provides maximum speed and protection of your critical data by combining the protection of RAID 1 mirroring with the speed of RAID 0 striping. However, if you want the freedom to use all of the 8big’s disk drives independently as individual storage units, you can also employ the 8big in a JBOD configuration. With support for JBOD, as well as five unique RAID configuration modes, the LaCie 8big provides enough backup configuration options to satisfy even the most demanding professionals.

Of course, it is true that versatile RAID protection is not unique to LaCie. In fact, most tech companies that specialize in external hard drives offer a multi-disk RAID array enclosure. What sets the LaCie 8big apart from the competition is its sophisticated design and what LaCie calls its “bulletproof reliability.” The 8big is a work of art on the inside just as much as it is on the outside. What LaCie means by “bulletproof reliability” is the 8big’s combination of multiple RAID array configurations and complete hardware-component redundancy. Besides redundant, hot-swappable disk drives when using RAID 5 and RAID 6 configurations, the 8big rack enclosure features three fully redundant, hot-swappable cooling fans and dual redundant power supplies that will keep the 8big running smoothly―even through a power-supply failure.

The unit’s three efficient, thermo-regulated cooling fans drive airflow from the front to the back of the device in order to keep the disk drives cool during high-intensity applications. Cool air is circulated under an integrated metal sheet that sits just below the vital components inside the enclosure. The fans draw in cool air, which pushes hot air toward the back of the unit and dissipates any heat from building up directly under the 8big’s sensitive hardware components―including its two rows of disk drives. The metal sheet and fans are part of an innovative cooling system that makes the LaCie 8big a more reliable storage solution.

All of these components are completely user-serviceable, hot-swappable, and easily accessible. They support tool-free maintenance and simple two-step replacement as well. LaCie also includes an extensive three-year limited warranty with the 8big Rack system. The warranty provides comprehensive technical support and worldwide repair/replacement coverage. You can even add optional perks like faster product replacement and a data recovery service.

For fast and clean integration into your workstation, the LaCie 8big supports a convenient rack-ready mounting design that requires only a slim 1U rack space for installation. Creative professionals with critical data to protect and limited space for work, will find everything they’re looking for in the compact 8big Rack unit. Whether you’re working with Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Lightroom, or Apple Aperture, the 8big will integrate seamlessly into your workflow. Even amateur videographers with a small home studio will now be able to edit RAW 4K video files in real time with zero latency on a high-resolution 4K monitor. Photographers will be able to edit and browse through extensive archives containing thousands of high-resolution RAW images. Audio engineers will be able to mix hundreds of audio tracks simultaneously with zero lag.

No matter what your creative passion happens to be, the LaCie 8big will help you transfer, edit, and protect your data more efficiently and effectively than ever before. The 8big provides the flexibility to choose from multiple RAID mode configurations and it utilizes the speed and performance of Thunderbolt 2 connectivity. Plus, its complete component redundancy ensures total fail-safe coverage. Combine all this with Neil Poulton’s sophisticated design aesthetic and it’s easy to see why LaCie’s 8big is so popular among creative professionals. Although I haven’t spent much time using the 8big, my brief introduction to it was enough to convince me that there’s currently not a more reliable Thunderbolt 2-equipped multi-disk RAID enclosure available. For further reading or more information on the eight-bay LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt RAID series of enclosures, please stop by the B&H SuperStore in Manhattan or visit us on the Web by logging onto the B&H website. You can also direct any questions you might have to a professional sales associate or tech specialist. Both are available over the phone at 1-800-606-6969 or via the B&H Live Chat system.

LaCie 8big Rack Thunderbolt 2 RAID Series Multi-Drive Enclosure
Available Storage Capacities 12TB
24TB
48TB
Internal Storage Media 4 x 3TB Hot-Swappable Hard Disk Drives (12TB Model)
8 x 3TB Hot-Swappable Hard Disk Drives (24TB Model)
8 x 6TB Hot-Swappable Hard Disk Drives (48TB Model)
Disk Drive Speed / Cache 7200 rpm / 64MB or Greater (all three enclosure capacities)
Enclosure Bays 12TB Model: 8 Bays (4 used)
24TB Model: 8 Bays (8 used)
48TB Model: 8 Bays (8 used)
Interfaces 2 x Thunderbolt 2 Ports (backward compatible with first-generation Thunderbolt interface)
Maximum Interface Transfer Rate 20 Gbps
Read-Speed Performance 800 MB/s (12TB Four-Disk RAID 0)
600 MB/s (12TB Four-Disk RAID 5)
1330 MB/s (24TB Eight-Disk RAID 0)
1150 MB/s (24TB Eight-Disk RAID 5)
1330 MB/s (48TB Eight-Disk RAID 0)
1130 MB/s (48TB Eight-Disk RAID 5)
Write-Speed Performance 900 MB/s (12TB Four-Disk RAID 0)
600 MB/s (12TB Four-Disk RAID 5)
1060 MB/s (24TB Eight-Disk RAID 0)
1060 MB/s (24TB Eight-Disk RAID 5)
1060 MB/s (48TB Eight-Disk RAID 0)
1020 MB/s (48TB Eight-Disk RAID 5)
Interface Technology Bi-directional 20 Gbps (permits a high-resolution display and RAW 4K video editing)
Power-Saving Mode Yes (reduces power consumption by spinning down disks without disrupting daisy chain transfers)
Power-Saving Button (a short press initiates power-saving mode)
Power-Saving Button (a long press turns product off completely)
Supported RAID Configurations Preconfigured for HFS+ RAID 5
Supports Hardware RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 6, RAID 10, and JBOD
LaCie RAID Manager Software (used to configure RAID mode)
Daisy-Chain Compatibility Yes (connect up to six Thunderbolt-compatible devices including Thunderbolt 2 & LaCie Thunderbolt Series products)
Security Technology AES 256-bit Software Encryption & Cable Management Arm
Cooling Technology 3 x Redundant Hot-Swappable Fans
Aluminum Front & All-Metal Enclosure
Bottom Metal Sheet (provides efficient cooling & dissipates heat for long-term reliability)
Acoustics 50 dB (idle)
53 dB (operating mode)
69 dB (operating maximum)
Additional Spec Features Tool-Free Component Replacement
Cable-Free Connections (for fans, disks & PSU)
Two-Step Easy Access to Components
Front-Facing Status LEDs (for disks, power & alarm)
ID Button (from front or back—provides user-friendly way to identify unit installed in a rack)
Alarm Function with Mute Button
System Monitoring & Email Alerts (for failure & warning events)
Power Supply Dual AC 100-240 V (50 / 60 Hz) Redundant PSU System
Power Consumption 250W
System Requirements Computer Operating System Requirements: Mac OS X 10.9 or Later
Computer Interface Requirements: Computer with Thunderbolt 2 Port (also compatible with first-generation Thunderbolt ports)
Computer Disk Space Requirements: Minimum of 600MB Free Disk Space Recommend
System Software Intego Backup Manager Pro Software
LaCie Private-Public Software (protects data with AES 256-bit encryption)
LaCie RAID Manager Software (features administration console)
Rack Compatibility 1U Rack-Ready Mounting Configuration
Product Dimensions (WxHxD) 18.9 x 30.4 x 1.7" (477 x 772 x 44mm)
Product Weight (Zero Disks Installed) 33 lb (15 kg)
Product Weight (Four Disks Installed) 39 lb (18 kg)
Product Weight (Eight Disks Installed) 44 lb (20 kg)

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