It’s always a little painful when Apple decide to transition to a new set of connectors. This time it’s the Macbook Pro that’s leading the charge, having ditched any connectors that aren’t Thunderbolt 3. Cupertino will gladly sell you a dongle to help ease the transition…
Apple’s fastest growing product category. pic.twitter.com/d1sel4N5Yc
— Drew Breunig (@dbreunig) October 28, 2016
…but if you want to take advantage of the huge increase in bandwidth the standard makes available, it’s time for some new drives.
We’ve already covered G-Tech’s initial offerings, and now Lacie have announced their first drives that connect via Thunderbolt 3.
If speed is your thing, the Bolt3 is the company’s self-proclaimed ‘world’s fastest desktop drive.’ Inside a typically sleek , CNC machined aluminium enclosure are two M.2 PCIe SSDs that are striped in a RAID for speed – up to 2800MB/s of speed. That’s pretty fast, though still only using just over half the theoretical bandwidth of the Thunderbolt 3 standard.
If capacity is more useful to you, the company has updated its 12big line of traditional spinning platter RAIDs and introduced a new six disk array, known as the 6big. The 12big will manage speeds of up to 2600MB/s and the 6big 1400MB/s, depending on how they’re configured: those headline rates are for RAID 0, which offers no redundancy at all and is perhaps not the best or safest way to make use of all that space.
A more sensible use for a maxed out 120TB 12big would be to take a slight hit on speed and store 100 hours of 4K ProRes 4444 XQ footage in RAID 5 (assuming 764GB/hour of footage). Drives are user-serviceable and the housings are metal to help dissipate the heat all those spinning disks will generate while you’re cutting the next generation of cat videos in 8K.
And if you need the capacity of a RAID on location, Lacie have partnered with Peli to offer custom Storm cases for both the 12big and 6big arrays. These are waterproof, dustproof, airtight and come with a lifetime warranty from Pelican: they sound like a great option if you just can’t bear to leave your RAID in the edit suite.
It’s great to see mass market post-production tools start to catch up with the demands of 4K footage and there’s no doubt the Thunderbolt 3 specs are a huge leap forward when compared to Thunderbolt 2.
Of course it’s early days for the new standard and early adoption comes at a price. If you’re currently pricing up your new editing setup… you might want to have a little sit down. The superfast Bolt3 comes in a 2TB SSD capacity for $1,999 US (yes, nearly what you just spent on your new Macbook Pro), the 6big will be available in 24TB, 36TB, 48TB and 60TB capacities starting at $3,199 US, and the LaCie 12big will come in 48TB, 72TB, 96TB and 120TB capacities starting at $6,399 US. Peli cases for the RAIDs will start at a more wallet-friendly $349, and everything will be available ‘this quarter’ from resellers. Time to start writing those letters to Father Christmas…