The National Association of Broadcaster’s trade show in Las Vegas is in full swing, and several prominent hardware makers have unveiled new Thunderbolt 3-equipped tools. Although there are no current products in Apple’s lineup that support Thunderbolt 3, it’s widely assumed that such hardware, made possible by Intel’s Skylake microarchitecture, is in the pipeline.
The folks over at Lacie, Promise, and CalDigit have all revealed new Thunderbolt 3 products at NAB 2016, bringing high bandwidth and high-capacity storage solutions to market.
What is Thunderbolt 3?
Thunderbolt 3 is the latest generation of the Thunderbolt hardware interface, and the direct successor to Thunderbolt 2. There are several differences between Thunderbolt 3 and previous generations, but the most obvious difference is the connector type. Previous generations used the miniDisplay Port connector, while Thunderbolt 3 uses USB-C.
More importantly, Thunderbolt combines DisplayPort and PCI express into one serial signal, while providing DC power in a single cable. This means that, in theory, it’s possible to both power and connect a Thunderbolt 3-equipped machine to the rest of the peripherals that you need using a single cable.
With Thunderbolt 3, bandwidth has been doubled to 40Gbps vs Thunderbolt 2’s 20Gbps. The controller also supports HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 protocols for the ability to daisy chain dual 4K monitors at 60Hz.
Needless to say, Thunderbolt 3 is a uber-promising interface that serves as the basis for the following hardware products announced today at NAB.
Lacie, who is no stranger to Mac workflows big and small, revealed its 12big Thunderbolt 3 12-Bay Desktop RAID storage solution. The all aluminum enclosure features the same high design standards that we’ve come to expect from Lacie. Not only is this unit ridiculously fast, with up to 2600MB/s transfer speeds, and 2400MB/s speeds in RAID 5, but it also features an obscene amount of storage capacity.
Loaded with 12 7200 RPM enterprise-class Seagate drives for a record-setting 96TB of storage, the 12big Thunderbolt 3 features a vast amount of storage space that is perfect for professional workflows. The drives are designed to operate 24×7 and are rated for 8760 hours of operation per year.
For a system that ships with so many drives, you’re probably wondering about the warranty included with this setup. The 12big comes with a five-year limited warranty that covers all of the drives, the enclosure and spare parts.
With this being a RAID-protected setup, Lacie has redesigned its RAID manager to offer a more intuitive interface to help administer the 12big. Users can put the RAID manager to work to assist with initial setup and storage monitoring. It also allows for advanced features like auto rebuild, drive diagnostics and CPU settings.
Along with dual Thunderbolt 3 ports, the unit also features a USB 3.1-enabled USB-C port for added flexibility. Read more about Lacie’s big announcement via its press release.
T8 Extreme Thunderbolt 3 RAID
CalDigit announced two new Thunderbolt 3 products today at NAB, starting with the T8 Extreme Thunderbolt 3 RAID, an 8-bay storage solution that can support both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives. The T8 features capacities of 48TB with 3.5″ traditional spinning disks, or 8TB with using 2.5″ SSDs. CalDigit says that the T8 features speeds of up to 1440MB/s with SSDs.
The T8 bay features support for RAID 0,1, 5, 6, or JBOD, and features dual Thunderbolt 3 ports for up to 40Gb/s bandwidth. The T8 also sports a full sized DisplayPort input on its rear, allowing for a quick and easy 4K 60Hz monitor setup.
T4 Thunderbolt 3
The original T4 RAID featured Thunderbolt 2, but it’s receiving a Thunderbolt 3-centric update featured dual USB-C ports with 40Gb/s performance. Like the T8, the T4 features a full-sized DisplayPort connector on its rear for connecting a 4K monitor.
The T4 features support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and JBOD. The bay comes in 24TB (HDD) or 4TB (SSD) varieties with hot-swappable drive bays. The updated T4 features transfer speeds up to 1440MB/s with SSD drives.
If you’re looking for what will doubtlessly be a more affordable Thunderbolt 3 drive bay solution in a more compact form-factor, then the T4 is an interesting proposition. Pricing for either product has yet to be confirmed, but we’re hoping to hear more details soon. Check out CalDigit’s full press release for additional information.
Last, but certainly not least, the folks at Promise showed off some intriguing new Thunderbolt 3-equipped products as well. Promise’s Pegasus3 Series of Thunderbolt 3 products is headlined by an 8-bay storage solution, but it’s also revealed smaller 6-bay and 4-bay solutions for customers who don’t require as much storage space.
All three products in the Pegasus3 Series support Thunderbolt 3, along with the 40GBps bandwidth that the interface affords. Promise hasn’t provided drive configurations or transfer rates in its press release, but we can assume that they will be quite speedy and feature RAID configurations like the competition.
Each model in the Pegasus3 Series ships with two Thunderbolt 3 ports, which allow for daisy chaining. Like CalDigit’s two Thunderbolt 3 offerings, a full-sized DisplayPort connection is there to support directly connecting a 4K monitor. Have a look at Promise’s full press release for more details.
Thunderbolt 3 is still in its infancy, and as you know, no Mac that’s currently on sale supports the technology. That should change in the near future, as some Windows machines and hardware providers already support Thunderbolt 3.
We’ll be sure to keep you updated with any additional news regarding Thunderbolt 3, and the new offerings from Lacie, CalDigit and Promise.