La Cie Big Disk (500 GB)

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by quidire, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. macrumors 6502


    Something seems too good to be true (at least in a sense):

    The La Cie Big Disk 500 GB Triple Interface is $499.
    The La Cie Big Disk 500 GB Extreme is also $499.

    The only difference appears to be that the first drive supports another interface, and comes with an extra cable. Is there any reason at all not to by the first as opposed to the second in all cases?

    I have no intention of ever using the USB 2.0 interface, but if there is no difference, might as well have that capability; moreover, I get a plug to connect my computer to my printer.

    Win win, but that sounds disturbing... I'm waiting to hear that the triple interface drive is, due to the extra circuitry, somehow slower/less reliable etc...

  2. macrumors 6502



    Anyone? :confused:
  3. macrumors 68020


    From the specs:

    LaCie Big Disk Triple Interface
    FireWire 800: up to 55 MB/s
    FireWire 400: up to 35 MB/s
    USB 2.0: up to 34 MB/s**

    LaCie Big Disk Extreme
    FireWire 800: up to 88MB/s
    FireWire 400: up to 35MB/s

    It looks like the "Extreme" FW only disk has a higher maximum FW 800 transfer rate than the triple interface. Given that, I'm going to have to do some research into the reliability and noise levels of these drives - great price per GB.

    Prices of larger drives are coming down. $499. is what a 500 GB drive SHOULD be priced at. What I like about the drive you outline is that unlike it's smaller cousins it has an 8 MB buffer (vs. 2 MB)
  4. macrumors 68020


    Now I see why it's so fast - It's a RAID 0 Array - 2 - 250 MB disks in one case. here's one review I found:

    RAID arrays provide an effective way to get around the physical limitations of hard disks by using multiple disks that appear to the operating system as one. Affordable RAID-equipped motherboards make it easy and cheap to implement RAID inside a desktop PC, but most external RAID-based storage devices cost more than most users could justify. The exception is LaCie's Big Disk range.

    We first looked at the Big Disk in Labs, December 2003, where we found that it gave good performance and had a huge capacity, thanks to the use of two 250GB hard disks built into its aluminium case. The Big Disk Extreme reviewed here costs the same, but differs in two respects. One is that the USB2 interface has disappeared, although this still leaves FireWire 400 and the newer FireWire 800 to choose between. The other difference is in the way its two disks work together. The Big Disk presents its pair of disks as one huge one, but writes data to whichever has unused space. The Big Disk Extreme uses a genuine RAID 0 array. This splits incoming data between the two drives, not only doubling the capacity of a single disk, but also giving a performance boost as each disk writes and reads data simultaneously.

    Our performance tests gave some impressive results. In our large file tests over FireWire 800, the drive managed an average write speed of 48MB/s and a read speed of 55.1MB/s. Of the other external hard disks we've seen, only CMS's Velocity (What's New, Shopper May 2004) has come close, managing 47.5MB/s write and 48.8MB/s read speeds, thanks to its Serial ATA interface. Most external hard disks loiter around the 25-30MB/s mark, while other FireWire 800 drives (including the original Big Disk) perform at around 40MB/s. Over the slower FireWire 400 interface, the Big Disk Extreme's average write speed was 29.0MB/s and the read speed was 31.1MB/s - decent, but nothing special.

    In our small file tests the drive showed a mixed improvement over others we've seen. It beat its closest competitor by 22 per cent in write tests, but by only 2.4 per cent in read tests. Both results are excellent, though, and make the Big Disk Extreme a fine choice for backup. Sadly, no software is supplied for this purpose.

    The Big Disk Extreme is a fine technical achievement, and if you need your storage to be external, vast and fast, it's ideal.
  5. macrumors 6502


    Hmmm; any concerns about reliability? Why does no one use Raid 4/5? A Bigger Disk w/ Raid 5 would have 750 GB that could survive the total destruction of one disk... *sigh*

    Software can easily make up for this; that's what Unix shell scripts are for ;-)

  6. macrumors 6502a


    LaCie likes to implement multiple hard drives into their enclosures. For instance, their terabyte hard drive is just 4 250s. But they use no RAID mechanism with that. It just fills them up and like reservoirs...
  7. macrumors 6502


    Actually if the increase in sustained transfer rates is indeed directly attributable to the addition of a RAID controller in place of the USB interface, then the transfer rate difference between the Bigger Disk and the Bigger Disk Extreme would also indicate that the Bigger Disk Extreme (1TB and 1.6TB) was also using RAID 0. (while the 1TB Bigger Disk was not)

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