LaCie brings Thunderbolt 2 to high-end storage products

The Seagate subsidiary moves its 2big and 5big storage systems to the faster Thunderbolt 2 data-transfer technology -- but adds USB 3 support, too. The new 8big rack-mount system is for those who need even more speed and capacity.

LaCie's 8big (with three stacked up in this photo) is a rack-mounted eight-drive storage system with raw capacity up to 48TB. It uses the Thunderbolt 2 interface.
LaCie's 8big (with three stacked up in this photo) is a rack-mounted eight-drive storage system with raw capacity up to 48TB. It uses the Thunderbolt 2 interface. LaCie

Tightening its embrace of Intel's high-speed Thunderbolt connection technology, LaCie has upgraded its 2big and 5big storage systems and added a new 8-drive rack-mount storage system to its product line.

LaCie, a Seagate Technology subsidiary that focuses on a higher-end customers, announced the products on Sunday at the beginning of the National Association of Broadcasters' NAB 2014 conference, which gathers customers buying hardware and software for editing video. Thunderbolt 2 doubles data-transfers speeds to 20Gbps, making it easier for video pros to handle the high resolutions and data rates of 4K video. 4K, also called UltraHD, has about four times the pixels as ordinary HD video at 1920x1080 resolution.

LaCie's 2big has two hard drives as large as 6TB, a step up from the existing 2big model, and the 5big has -- can you guess? -- five 6TB drives for a 30TB top capacity. There are other significant improvements, though: both now have USB 3.0 connections for compatibility with the non-Thunderbolt world, and the 5big fixes a big shortcoming of the existing 5big model with the addition of RAID 5, which is a good balance of data safety and performance. (If you're not up on how RAID protects data even with the failure of individual hard drives in an array, check CNET's primer on RAID.)

The new LaCie 2big still holds two hard drives, but now it connects with Thunderbolt 2 and also has USB 3 connections.
The new LaCie 2big still holds two hard drives, but now it connects with Thunderbolt 2 and also has USB 3 connections. LaCie

The 8big accommodates eight drives for total storage capacity of 12TB, 24TB, or 48TB. Like the 5big, its drives are hot-swappable so they can be changed out while the system is still running. It's 1U tall -- 1.75 inches, or one rack unit -- for customers who prefer to the their hardware bolted into a compact frame.

The 2big can transfer data at 420MBps, the 5big at 1050MBps, and the 8big at 1330MBps, LaCie said.

LaCie didn't announce price or availability.

Thunderbolt offers high data-transfer rates and lets customers daisy-chain devices so a single computer port can accommodate multiple storage systems, monitors, and other Thunderbolt products. Devices need two Thunderbolt ports to extend the daisy chain, and all LaCie's have dual ports.

While Thunderbolt has found a niche among higher-end customers, it remains a rarity for ordinary PCs. There, USB 3 -- including a faster 10Gbps version on the way -- satisfies most people's needs.

The LaCie 5big now is upgraded with the faster Thunderbolt 2, a USB 3 connection, and support for RAID 5 data protection.
The LaCie 5big now is upgraded with the faster Thunderbolt 2, a USB 3 connection, and support for RAID 5 data protection. LaCie

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About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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