ThunderBolt Drive Enclosures : We Can't Wait
DIY ThunderBolt Hard Disk Cases - In 2013?It may be a bit longer wait before the first true ThunderBolt compatible hard drive cases ship. Do-it-your-selfer's who want to cobble together thier own high-speed Thunderbolt backup drive are getting creative. Some are using Seagate's recently released GoFlex ThunderBolt Dock with a bare, off the shelf SATA III 2.5" SSD drives to cobble a workable, and very fast ThunderBolt drive solution. You'll need a rubber-band to hold the spinning platter or solid-state drive mechanism in place.. or pony up for a laptop GoFlex drive module and ideally replace the spinning platter mechanism inside the Segate GoFlex enclosure with the fastest SSD of your choosing. As an alternative: cannibalizing a Buffalo miniStation Combo Interface Drive with both ThunderBolt and USB 3.0 port for around $200 (both cables are included as well) - which could be pried open for a Solid-State drive swap. Recommended SATA III SSD's for this would be an OCZ Vertex4 , Crucial M4 , or SanDisk Extreme.
ThunderBolt Drive DockSeagate's first TBolt drive dock was released a few months back for laptop-sized GoFlex Drives. A full-size drive ThunderBolt docking station for 3.5" GoFlex Desk mechanisms recently started shipping. While you can piece a working solution together, Seagate now offers a *BUNDLE* with the adapter, drive AND cable in either portable or full size drive configurations. (See the Sidebar on this page)
|GoFlex Laptop Drive Dock||Required TBolt Cable||GoFlex Portable Drive|
|2.5" GoFlex TBolt Adapter
For Laptop Backup Plus Line
Also Works With Bare 2.5" Drives!
|ThunderBolt Device Cable
NOT Included With Most Drives!
|Pair With This Seagate Drive
Portable BackupPlus Drive With GoFlex Interface
By all accounts, the rollout of ThunderBolt was nothing but a slow struggle, even well into 2012. With Intel solely controlling the ThunderBolt chipset and licensing of Intellectual Property, it's slowed the ability to ship announced ThunderBolt accessories or drives. Now however, some of the ThunderBolt peripherals announced at CES 2012 have started to ship in volume.
Because of Thunder-Bolt's daisy-chain topology, the ideal TBolt drive case will ideally have DUAL TBolt ports on the enclosure for greatest flexibility in placement along the chain. Unfortunately, Intel is the SOLE SUPPLIER of ThunderBolt chipsets at this time - and only those who've signed licensing agreements with Intel have access to do samples for ThunderBolt product development and testing. ThunderBolt Enclosures are likely to command quite a price premuim. As we seeing with Seagate's GoFlex dock at $99, that's 5-10x more than a $10-20 SATA USB laptop drive enclosure costs these days. From what we're seeing with the pricing of Promise Technologies and LaCie's ThunderBolt drive offerings, there's definitely a price premium for the privelege of using the ThunderBolt chipset versus more conventional I/O interfaces. Ouch!
We'd suspect NewEgg will be a good source for ThunderBolt drive cases once enclosures start shipping. Lord knows they currently carry a huge line of 2.5" and 3.5" hard disk enclosures for in a multitude of other eSata, FireWire 400/800 and USB 2 and SuperSpeed 3.0 USB drive configs.
ThunderBolt RAID Enclosures - An Ideal Drive CaseThe insane amount of bi-directional bandwidth available on a ThunderBolt port begs for storage technologies able to fill it's pipeline. Striped multi-drive ThunderBolt drive arrays like Promise Technologies Pegasus R4 and R6 ThunderBolt RAID enclosure leverages high RPM 3.5" conventional spinning-platter drives in a striped RAID 0 configuration.
Which Drives Are Best For ThunderBolt?ThunderBolt's potential speeds far exceed any storage technology available today. The fastest ThunderBolt drive you can build will ideally be based on a solid-state disk. But unless you've got a fat wallet and rather modest storage requirements - achieving more than 256GB of high-speed SSD backup space is going to be pretty expensive. For higher capacity with a few speed tradeoff's - Dual Drive ThunderBolt hardware RAID enclosures will fit the bill.
In the conventional spinning platter hard drive market: Two top performing hard drives for ThunderBolt are the barn-burning Western Digital Velociraptor Drive - In this case, a 3.5 inch form-factor 10,000 RPM, SATA III 6Gbps mechanism with 32MB of onboard cache in the $200 ballpark.
The other alternative which may be a good ThunderBolt enclosure + drive choice may be to build a HYBRID THUNDERBOLT DRIVE using a Seagate Momentus XT Hybrid Drive - Here you get a 500GB 2.5 inch drive that blends a 7200RPM SATA II 32MB Cache mechanism with 4GB of single-layer (fast and durable) SLC SSD flash memory for the best of both worlds on a budget, currently Hybrid drives are only about $100. We're moving beyond just mechanical drives with big on-board cache - the instegration of a relatively small amount of SSD flash is likely to become the norm. Hybrid SSD's promise to become the low-cost performance and capacity choice for general purpose computing.