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LaCie one-ups itself with dual-drive Thunderbolt storage

Already a Thunderbolt pioneer, LaCie announces two new products for the fast expensive interface: the dual-drive 2big storage system and a hub for eSATA drives.

LaCie's dual-drive 2big Thunderbolt storage system will ship in the first quarter of 2012 with up to 8TB of capacity.
LaCie's dual-drive 2big Thunderbolt storage system will ship in the first quarter of 2012 with up to 8TB of capacity. LaCie

LaCie, one of the first companies out of the gate last year with storage using Intel's fast Thunderbolt interface, introduced a dual-drive system called the 2big today at CES.

The 2big can be configured with two drives paired for high performance and capacity (RAID 0) or for high reliability by mirroring (RAID 1). Some people will appreciate fast backups, no doubt, but it seems likely that those willing to spring for Thunderbolt will be more inclined to take the performance route.

In addition, LaCie introduced its eSATA Hub Thunderbolt Series. eSATA is an external version of the usual internal hard drive interface that didn't catch on widely; this product lets people wire up their eSATA drive enclosures via Thunderbolt.

The company didn't disclose prices, but said the products will ship in the first quarter of the year. Don't expect them to be cheap, though: Thunderbolt is a premium technology. LaCie's single-drive Thunderbolt storage systems, the Little Big Disk, costs $500 for a 1TB 7200rpm drive or $900 for a 240GB SSD.

Each of the new products includes a second Thunderbolt port, letting customers daisy-chain other devices such as monitors. So far Apple is the only computer maker to offer computers with Thunderbolt ports. It sells cables for $49 apiece.

The 2big can transfer data at speeds up to 311MBps, LaCie said, and accommodates up to 8TB of storage.

Thunderbolt so far remains a premium Intel technology available only on newer Macs and with relatively few peripherals. The needle budged a bit at CES, though, with the arrival of Elgato's Thunderbolt-based SSD. However, Belkin's $299 Thunderbolt dock, which can link a Thunderbolt-equipped computer to an HDMI display, USB and Firewire devices, and an Ethernet cable, was delayed until September and only supports the slower USB 2.0 interface.