G-Technology, a company owned by Hitachi, has released an updated model of their G-RAID solution, which now adds Thunderbolt support. Essentially the G-RAID Thunderbolt is equivalent to the regular G-RAID but features two Thunderbolt ports instead of the eSATA, FireWire, and USB ports that are found in the regular version. From inside they are the same: both utilize two SATA 3Gb/s Hitachi Deskstar hard drives, which can be configured in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 mode.

G-Technology G-RAID Thunderbolt Specifications
Capacity 4TB 6TB 8TB
Drive Configuration 2x2TB 2x3TB 2x4TB
Rotational Speed 7200rpm 7200rpm 7200rpm
Cache 2x32MB 2x64MB 2x64MB
Ports 2x Thunderbolt
Performance Up to 280MB/s
Price $700 $850 $1000

Typical of most Thunderbolt devices, the G-RAID Thunderbolt has two Thunderbolt ports to enable daisy-chaining. G-Technology quotes a sustained throughput of 280MB/s, but since the performance of hard drives is heavily dependent on the areal density, the maximum performance of the 4TB and 6TB models is likely slower.

StorageReview is also reporting that they saw an unreleased G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt support. G-DRIVE is G-RAID's little brother that has a single 3.5" hard drive. Unfortunately, there is no information on its specifications or availability.

There are quite a few Thunderbolt products out there so let's recap the external Thunderbolt storage offerings quickly. Right now there are five brands with products available for the masses: Promise, LaCie, Western Digital, Seagate and G-Technology. Most of these are external storage solutions with two or more hard drives, but there are simpler products like Seagate's GoFlex adapter that turns any GoFlex drive into a Thunderbolt drive. The table below compares products from the aforementioned companies:

Comparison of Thunderbolt Storage Solutions
Brand Promise LaCie
Model Pegasus R4 Pegasus R6 Little Big Disk 2big
Capacity 4x1TB 4x2TB 6x1TB 6x2TB 2x500GB 2x1TB 2x120GB SSD 2x2TB 2x3TB
Throughput 500MB/s 800MB/s 180MB/s 190MB/s 480MB/s 327MB/s
Price $1149 $1799 $1799 $2499 $450 $550 $850 $600 $750
Warranty Two years Three years
Brand Western Digital G-Technology Seagate
Model My Book Thunderbolt Duo G-RAID GoFlex Desk (w/ TB adapter)
Capacity 2x2TB 2x3TB 2x2TB 2x3TB 2x4TB 1TB 2TB 3TB 4TB
Throughput 225MB/s 250MB/s 280MB/s N/A
Price $555 $660 $700 $850 $1000 $320 $350 $370 $440
Warranty Three years Three years Two years

If we only look at price per GB, Seagate's GoFlex Desk drives with the Thunderbolt adapter are the cheapest--especially the 3TB and 4TB models are very affordable when compared to other options. However, keep in mind that GoFlex Desk drives feature only a single 3.5" hard drive, whereas all other solutions have at least two 2.5" or 3.5" drives. Running two drives in RAID 0 increases the performance (particularly sequential transfer rates), hence the GoFlex Desk should be the slowest drives in the comparison.

3.5" hard drives top out at 4TB at the moment and thus one has to look into multi-drive solutions if more than 4TB is needed. At 6TB, Western Digital's My Book Thunderbolt Duo series offers the best price/capacity ratio. In terms of performance, however, it's rated as slower than G-Technology's and LaCie's offerings--though we need to emphasize that the performance ratings are from manufacturers' sites and may hence not be completely accurate.

G-Technology's advantage is the fact that they are the only company (along with Seagate) that is using 4TB hard drives. As Seagate does not offer any dual-drive solutions, G-Technology is the only company that offers an 8TB dual-drive product. $1000 is definitely expensive but it's $800 less than what Promise asks for their 8TB version of the Pegasus R4. However, Promise uses four 2TB drives and there is support for RAID 5 and 6 as well, so Pegasus and G-RAID aren't strictly comparable.

All in all, there are definitely a lot more products than there were a bit over a year ago when Thunderbolt launched, but personally I expected more. It has been over a year and yet the cheapest Thunderbolt storage solution will still set you back over $300. I give Seagate credit for bringing an adapter to the market instead of dedicated products like other manufacturers, but $190 for an adapter (or $100 for the 2.5" adapter) is an awful lot. For $190 you can get a 3TB USB 3.0 hard drive that will perform the same due to the fact that the hard drive is the bottleneck. Of course, the advantages of Thunderbolt lie elsewhere but given the current products, most of Thunderbolt's potential is being missed.

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  • zanon - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    All in all, there are definitely a lot more products than there were a bit over a year ago when Thunderbolt launched, but personally I expected more.

    While that would have been nice, am I misremembering that at CES some manufacturers were saying the gen 1 controllers both were relatively expensive and also somewhat supply constrained, with Apple sucking up huge numbers for their systems? It has seemed like at least one generation of refinement and price dropping was really needed for TB, as well as a much bigger installed base. With CR only just out, and only a few TB boards demo'd so far, it seems like this year will be where we really see what can be done. Been kind of a trickle up to now.

    Also, outside of big multidisk enclosures storage seems like a weird leading edge thing for TB, since it's complete overkill. If everything was cheap then it'd be useful due to daisy chaining and consolidation, but that's a ways off (if it happens). Stuff like external PCIe or serious video seem like much more compelling early apps. I'd be a lot more interested in hearing about the TB stuff at NAB then another drive.
  • zorxd - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    I don't see a use case for any of these drives. Most of them aren't even faster than a eSATA or USB3 port and cost a lot more.
    If you are going to get the Pegasus R6, you might as well get a new PC with plenty of SATA 6Gbps ports instead, it will end up being cheaper and you will have everything in one box instead of two.
  • Zink - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    There's always someone who will buy it. If you use your MBP on location to make money then having 8TB of storage with you sure could come in handy. It really only makes sense for mac users without USB or eSATA.
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 17, 2012 - link

    The Pegasus is mostly used by video types who aren't interested in using Microsofts latest mediocrity of an OS and want the flexibility that TB and an external drive provide.
  • Solidstate89 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    Ahh, yes. Some asshole with the name of "darwinosx" passing clearly and totally unbiased judgement.

    As if your opinion on the subject means anything.
  • vkg1 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    It seems the one thing all these Thunderbolt storage solutions are missing is SSD cache. Look what just 4GB did for Seagate Momentus XT drives.

    Seems like throw a few GBs of SSD cache in there and suddenly these things run circles around anything that isn't Thunderbolt.
  • UltraTech79 - Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - link

    8TB RAID0?

    Youre just asking for a meteor to find your house.
  • Chippy99 - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    I find it quite bizarre that there is often a 10x difference in mtbf failure rates on different drives, yet people but them without worry or adverse comment.

    Yet choosing a 2x more likely failure by going for Raid 0 is considered madness.

    10x more likely is just fine. 2x is madness.

    Go figure?
  • Chippy99 - Monday, June 4, 2012 - link

    I meant buy them, not but them!

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