Discussion Forum Gear, Technology and Supporting Equipment Memory and Storage Sources for external hard drives with thunderbolt
  • #537
    Jack MacD

    With huge photo files the norm with either the M9 or S2 I look forward to seeing more options for external hard drives that connect with thunderbolt. Even the connection cords are rare so far. Does anyone have any experience with thunderbolt yet?

  • #539
    David Farkas

    Jack MacD;228 wrote: With huge photo files the norm with either the M9 or S2 I look forward to seeing more options for external hard drives that connect with thunderbolt. Even the connection cords are rare so far. Does anyone have any experience with thunderbolt yet?


    Perhaps the better question is why 2011 Macs don’t come standard with USB 3.0? It’s backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and is becoming the norm in the PC world. Yes, Thunderbolt boasts speeds of 10Gb/s and USB 3.0 is only 5Gb/s, but there is no currently shipping SSD that can even move data that quickly and saturate the maximum throughput of SATA 3.0 (6Gbs) which is 600MB/s. The fastest SSDs can do about 375MB/s. USB 3.0 has a maximum throughput after protocol overhead of 400MB/s. That is very, very fast and a perfect match for SSDs. Some perspective here: Firewire 800 is about 90MB/s.

    Don’t get me wrong. The more I learn about Thunderbolt the more impressed I get. I think for the long term, it is a great protocol and will be adopted by PC makers next year as Intel makes the chipset available to all OEMs. Apple is clearly targeting the professional video editing market which requires high data rate file streaming for real-time editing. Units like the Pegasus RAID from Promise utilize Thunderbolt for a stated throughput of 500 or 800MB/s depending on drive config. http://www.promise.com/storage/raid_series.aspx?m=192&region=en-global&rsn1=40&rsn3=47

    Here is an in-depth review of the Pegasus from AnandTech: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4489/promise-pegasus-r6-mac-thunderbolt-review

    In the review, they achieve 600MB/s transfer… but not from an internal drive, which caps out at 225MB/s from the stock Apple SSD on SATA 2.0 (3GBs). And, 4k random read/writes were an abysmal 1.5MB/s. Even an average SSD can do 35MB/s here. This is where you really feel the performance advantages of SSD and often image editing is a lot of these smaller read/writes not large sequential ones used for video streaming.

    When on the road, we are more likely to back up to a single portable external drive. Even 7200RPM spinning drives can only deliver a maximum of around 125-150MB/s sustained transfer rate. SSDs with their sustained read/writes of 375MB/s and USB 3.0’s 400MB/s would be a perfect match for small, portable external drives that perform like internal ones.

    By all means, Apple should put Thunderbolt on every new Mac, laptop or otherwise, but please, please update those dated USB 2.0 ports to USB 3.0 and give users some choices to accommodate current needs.

  • #556
    Jack MacD

    So you want USB 3.0 on your Mac? So would we all. Stay with your PC, as 3.0 is going to be added to a Mac right after Jobs adds Blue Ray disk readers and writers, and you know it.

    Since I want to use a MacBook Air for photo travel, I would have been happy if it had FireWire 800, but that’s not going to happen. Nor is 3.0. So thunderbolt will allow me to transfer my files full bore to an eventual thunderbolt external drive when I get home. Thanks for your links. I buy the Air in a week when it is introduced I hope.

  • #657

    Thunderbolt is complex and *expensive* – those $50 cables may never get cheaper if there’s no way around active cables.

    Unfortunately Apple is reducing support for ExpressCard. If you do have an ExpressCard slot use an eSATA card and an eSATA drive. It’s well-proven technology, effective and cheap.

    USB has issues besides raw bandwidth. It has had very high overhead, putting a lot of load on the system. One big advantage of eSATA is that it is as efficient as a hard disk, but that is not the case with USB at all.

    I use USB 3 on my PC right now to download images (using a USB 3 card reader) Were I on my MacBook I could use a CF card to SATA adapter, SATA to eSATA cable, and eSATA ExpressCard,but that’s a bit too jury-rigged for most people I think.

    I don’t know of any Thunderbolt solutions yet. Given the lack of early announcements cost-effective solutions may take a while.

  • #819
    David Farkas

    This looks nice!


    LaCie Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt

    No pricing yet, but sizing will be:

    240GB SSD
    500GB SSD
    1TB 7200RPM HDD

    All sizes will have built-in RAID 0 and Thunderbolt 10GB/s interface

  • #1019
    Jack MacD

    Looks like USB3 may be coming to mac.

    “Next year’s Ivy Bridge will bring more Display options to Macs (and likely USB 3 since the controller is built into the Intel chipset).”

  • #1915
    Jack MacD

    Seagate Go Flex might be a solution for file swapping between computers for me.

    I have an 2010 iMac without thunderbolt but with firewire 800 and also a 2011 MacAir with thunderbolt and USB 2.0.

    My challenge was how to swap files between the two machines in the fastest manner?

    Seagate is now making a thin 500Gig drive that can act as a time machine for the Air and be connected ever so slowly via USB 2.0 out of the box. Then for transferring files to the iMac, there is a $20 swappable firewire 800 that will allow for faster uploads to the iMac. I also discovered that modern portable drives are truly portable as they do not use as much power as my old portable drives that really could not be driven via a single USB.

    That will have to do the trick until winter 2012. I thought this was the winter of 2012, so we will see when the promised Thunderbolt adaptor is released/shipped. I have ordered it direct from Seagate’s website.

    Then I will have a very small handy external hard drive of twice the capacity of the Air using both Thunderbolt and firewire 800. I might add that the firewire adaptor is almost as expensive at $99 as the 500 Gig hard drive at $119. Ah, the price of convenience. But the adaptors can also be fit to more and larger drives.

    Also a good way to switch files from Mac to PC and yes they have a USB 3.0 adaptor as shown in the illustration. It comes with 2.0.


  • #2791
    Jack MacD

    It has been one year since I asked this question. Today I saw apple is now selling
    a $29.00 Apple Thunderbolt to FireWire Adapter.

    That allows me to do a direct connect to my 6T external HD with 800 firewire from my Mac Air.

    This will hold me until I eventually upgrade my iMac to a version with thunderbolt and a thunderbolt external drive. No rush to do that yet. Or perhaps first I get a thunderbolt external drive that this adapter will connect to my current iMac.

    Meanwhile, David is probably happy that Mac finally has USB3, right?

  • #2792
    David Farkas

    Jack MacD;2900 wrote:

    Meanwhile, David is probably happy that Mac finally has USB3, right?

    Right! 😀

  • #4321

    Thunderbolt can be found on external hard drives, storage arrays, video capture devices, cameras, and docking stations.

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