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Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface developed by Intel and brought to market by Apple in early 2011. Thunderbolt combines PCI Express and DisplayPort into a serial data interface, so it’s backward compatible with DisplayPort hardware, and uses the same connector. While there aren’t many peripherals available yet that use Thunderbolt, the ones that do are pretty striking. Compatible with Mac computers, LaCie’s Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt is a good example.
Aside from its Thunderbolt interface, the most impressive thing about the Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt is its size. This disk drive’s enclosure is just 5.5 inches long by 3.3 inches high by 1.6 inches wide and it weighs 1.4 pounds. It will literally fit in the palm of your hand. Small on the outside but big on the inside, you can buy a Little Big Disk with as much as 2TB of storage space.
Not only is the Little Big Disk small, but it’s also fast. Each unit contains two separate drives formatted in a RAID 0 configuration to provide better read/write performance. Known as striping, RAID 0 spreads data across two or more disks. When you have a conduit that’s too big to fill a given container, the container simply can’t keep up with the inflow of data. It’s sort of like filling a Dixie cup from a fire hydrant. But a RAID 0 configuration, in this case with two drives, is akin to filling or emptying two cups at once. Writing to or reading from two drives at once makes more efficient use of Thunderbolt’s tremendous bandwidth. Note, however, that RAID 0 provides no redundancy, so you’ll want to back this drive up if you have valuable data stored on it, or at least maintain two of them.
A Thunderbolt port has a theoretical bandwidth of 10Gbps. It has separate channels for data and video, so both can be transferred simultaneously. The Little Big Disk has two Thunderbolt ports, allowing you to daisy-chain multiple Thunderbolt-compatible devices to a computer through a single cable.
The Thunderbolt Little Big Disk is useful to anyone who has to work with large volumes of data, at home, at work or even in the field. For example, photographers can show off high-resolution digital libraries with instant transitions from image to image. And videographers can capture and play back multiple uncompressed A/V streams at once, or even begin their editing process while still in the field.
Three models of the Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt are available. There’s a 1TB Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt which contains two 500GB, 7200 rpm hard drives in a RAID 0 configuration. The 1TB unit offers read and write transfer rates of 180MBps. Next in line there’s a 2TB Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt, which contains two 1TB, 5400 rpm drives in a RAID 0 configuration. The 2TB unit offers read and write transfer rates of 190MBps.
If fast throughput is more important to you than ultimate capacity, then the 240GB Little Big Disk SSD with Thunderbolt should be right up your alley. Containing two 120GB Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in a RAID 0 configuration, the 240GB unit can store data at speeds up to 245MBps and retrieve data at speeds up to 480MBps.
All of the Little Big Disks come with a drive stand for upright use, an external power supply, a user manual on CD-ROM and LaCie Backup Assistant with Data Restore for Mac 10.6 and Genie Timeline Pro backup software. The drives are backed by a 3-year limited warranty.
|Capacity||1 TB||2 TB||240 GB SSD|
|Interface||Thunderbolt 10 Gbps||Thunderbolt 10 Gbps||Thunderbolt 10 Gbps|
|Internal disks||500GB 7200 rpm HDD (x2)||1TB 5400 rpm HDD (x2)||120GB SSD (x2)|
|Data transfer rate (Read/Write)||180 MBps / 180 MBps||190 MBps / 190 MBps||480 MBps / 245 MBps|
|Dimensions||1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3" (40 x 140 x 85 mm)||1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3" (40 x 140 x 85 mm)||1.6 x 5.5 x 3.3" (40 x 140 x 85 mm)|
|Weight||1.4 lb (650 g)||1.4 lb (650 g)||1.4 lb (650 g)|