Thunderbolt Little Big Disks are Fast as Lightning


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)



All the Lacie images show the Thunderbolt drive connected only with the Thunderbolt cable. Do they all need external power?

Hello -


Yes  -  they all require AC power.  The AC power supply is included on all the drives featured in our article.

What are the recomendations to those hoping to use this as a portable drive?  Are these dirves considered durable enough to be taken on the road or are they desktop units only?


Is it possible to use the LaCie LittleBigDsik as the boot/system drive with a Thunderbolt-equipped iMac?

If so, is this regardless of which version iMac - either the smaller one with only one Thunderbolt port or the bigger one with two - and will this still work while simultaneoulsy using a secondary colour-calibrated Eizo monitor for colour critical work?

Sorry, but this question is making more sense now than ever with PowerMac updates being so slow and rumours of discontinuation from Apple. I had to buy a 21" iMac when my last Mac gave up as there was no new PowerMacs to get hold of at short notice, but the iMac is pretty good processor-wise, I just wish I could speed it up some by pluggin in these SSD's without having to buy a brand new machine all over again.


Yes, you can use a thunderbolt drive as a boot disc on either the single or double thunderbolt models.

The drive will also have a thunderbolt looped output to run to your second color correction monitor. 

I don't know that I'd say arrogant so much as less ecnreiepxed. Look at it this way, the iPod is only an accessory really to the computer. Sure, it basically created a new category of gadget that previously belonged to the few people who were geeky enough to want more than a CD player. But even now, it's not one of those items that is *required* to live in the digital age.Computers and cellphones, on the other hand, are. And the thing is, Apple's very good at the one and very NEW at the other. Having played with the iPhone a lot (and having *hated* cellphones pretty much for a decade or so), I can honestly say that they nailed what it would take for most people to *want* a phone. The problem is, they underestimated the amount of people that would want to do even more with the phone.The other problem is that software development for phones is nowhere near the level it is for computers. Most of the commonly used software out there, whether for Mac or PC, is being developed by companies that have been around for decades (and will continue to be around). If you look at phone applications, on the other hand, there's very few established companies, and *most* of those also make the phones their applications run on. For Apple to completely open up the iPhone for software developers, regardless of the fact that it's based on OS X, is to open up the platform to an even playing field where novices can seem the same as proven experts.Who's to say that x application is really going to be stable and dependable? Especially on a device where stable and dependable is essential. Lose your computer for a few days, it's a pain but survivable. Lose your phone for a few days and, for many people, that can be much worse.Don't forget to factor in energy efficiency. (Oh wait, all my extra software is a huge drain on the battery life? It must be Apple's fault!) Steve Jobs has said he'd love to have 3G on the iPhone but not before it's battery efficiency is proven.Arrogant? Nah, not really I think they're just learning by doing.And yeah, I'll be getting a MacBook Pro sometime soon, too.

My macbook preceeds thunderbolt and was curious when you mentioned that  thunderbolt is "backward compatible with DisplayPort hardware".   Can you clarify on this.

Thunderbolt is backward-compatible with DisplayPort hardware, meaning that you can plug a DisplayPort monitor into a Thunderbolt port and see video. But I'm guessing you have a Macbook with a DisplayPort output, and unfortunately you cannot plug a Thunderbolt hard drive into a DisplayPort and have it transfer data. Thunderbolt supports video and data, while DisplayPort supports only video.

Can the 2 drives be reconfigured for Raid 1?


I work for LaCie and would like to confirm that the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series can indeed be configured in RAID1

It is actually very easy. Simply use Disk Utility on your Mac OS to configure the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series into a RAID array that suits your needs. It's possible to set it up as a mirrored RAID set (RAID 1), which provides data protection if one disk fails. 

Alternatively, configure it as a striped RAID set (RAID 0) to maximize speed and capacity for large file storage and fast transfers. 

Should you have any more questions, please feel free to contact us.



Channel Marketing Manager

Hello -

Thanks for the clarification.  The two drives within the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt Series are pre-formatted as HFS+ Journaled for your Macintosh computer. Further, the disks have been preconfigured as a Striped RAID Set (RAID 0) for optimal performance. You have the option to adjust the RAID configuration as a Mirrored RAID Set for data protection using the Mac OS X Disk Utility. Please note that a Mirrored RAID Set copies the same files to each disk, affecting the transfer rate speed and reducing the available disk capacity by half.