Thunderbolt Drive with Thunderbolt Speed?

B...

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2013
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I know there have been threads similar to this already, but I don't think that they reached a consensus.

I would like to know what external Thunderbolt drives ACTUALLY can do Thunderbolt speeds. So far, I have seen the LaCie, the Buffalo and the Seagate (1 TB drives with TB + USB 3.0). It seems, however, that those are just USB 3.0 speeds with a Thunderbolt port. I have also seen the Pegasus J2 (I think), which IS thunderbolt speed, but is $400 for 256 GB.

Anyone know any affordable fast options? I would like anywhere from 256 GB to 512 GB, but do not want to spend $1000 for an external drive to complement my SSD's storage (256).

Thanks for all ideas.
 
Last edited:

AngelOfSoul

macrumors member
Feb 23, 2013
51
1
Well, this is just my idea in mind. I don't know if it's even existed.

You can get 2 drives with RAID 0 Configuration on HDD bay with thunderbolt connector. It will double the I/O speed since it RAID 0.
 

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,386
62
Well there is this one here.
http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/623-thunderbolt-performance-5big.html
Not expensive or pointless at all. ;)

The truth is there isn't really much of a point of Thunderbolt over USB 3.0 for external storage unless you go into plugging in Raid arrays. JBOD the disks will still be too slow.
Maybe some very fast Sata2 SSD will reach 500MB/s and is limited by the current gen USB 3.0 controllers that peak at around 300MB/s I think.

Reasonable for mass storage are only HDDs and they are simply not fast enough to even saturate USB 3.0. Even in RAID mode they aren't unless you go quad stripe set and so on but that requires a ridiculous amount of disks if you don't want to loose all your data. You need some RAID 10 or RAID 5 with 6-8 disks minimum.
SSDs are plain expensive. You can get 512GB for some 400-500 $. Adding the expensive thunderbolt case it is just not worth it.
Get a USB 3.0 case with 1-4 HDDs in it and you get more for less.

Thunderbolt is useful for docking stations, Displays, external GPUs (in theory at least) but for storage alone USB 3.0 is fast enough and worlds cheaper.
 

robvas

macrumors 68040
Mar 29, 2009
3,044
511
USA
You're going to need multiple drives.

Here are 4 Sandforce SSD's in a Pegasus R6:



I'd be interested in seing what a pair of Samsung 840 Pros can do.
 

Stetrain

macrumors 68040
Feb 6, 2009
3,548
18
The issue is not with Thunderbolt or the enclosures, but rather the limits of drive speeds. Thunderbolt being fast just means that the external drive is basically as fast as if it were inside the computer. It doesn't make the hard drive or SSD inside the enclosure any faster than it would be if it were inside the computer.

You would have to have multiple SSDs in RAID 0 to saturate the full speed of the Thunderbolt connection.
 

maratus

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2009
630
147
Canada
USB3.0 real life speed cap hovers at approximately 440MB/s and unless you totally want extra 100MB/s for your top-of-the-line SSD, thunderbolt won't change a lot.

Thunderbolt makes sense with 6G SSD RAID0 and the only such enclosure on the market isn't bus powered (although 10W should be enough). Don't forget that two 2.5" drives can't be bus powered by USB3.0 at all.

That being said, J2 looks like a viable option. But you should ask yourself a very important question: Why 440MB/s isn't enough?
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
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Oh, it definitely is! But what would real life speed be for like a WD Passport?How long would it take to copy a 10 GB file?

Also, how difficult is it to only have 128GB SSD with a 500GB external? I have used up only about 30-40 GB so far, but are you forever switching files over? I could do without the hassle.
 

maratus

macrumors 6502a
Jun 12, 2009
630
147
Canada
Oh, it definitely is! But what would real life speed be for like a WD Passport?How long would it take to copy a 10 GB file?

Also, how difficult is it to only have 128GB SSD with a 500GB external? I have used up only about 30-40 GB so far, but are you forever switching files over? I could do without the hassle.
WD Passport? AFAIK they only come with hard drives, and we're talking SSDs here. I personally wouldn't even consider a HDD for mobile storage anymore (i.e. the drive you're constantly taking with you) You can check my thread about P9223 for reference and you can always ask the community about specific models.

I like using external SSDs and 128GB inside is sufficient for almost any system installation. You can also add reduced size microSD adapter with 64GB microSDXC to store your iTunes library and archive media files.
 

Corax

macrumors 6502
Apr 27, 2009
266
0
Willemstad - Curaçao
PROMISE Pegasus J2 256GB, the reason it is fast is because it is made with 2x128GB SSD's inside in a RAID-0 setup.
Yes for faster (TB) speeds you pay more.
Faster cars also tend to be more expensive. :cool:
 

nando4

macrumors regular
Mar 21, 2009
111
0
Thunderbolt is useful for docking stations, Displays, external GPUs (in theory at least) but for storage alone USB 3.0 is fast enough and worlds cheaper.
Correction. external GPUs using the Thunderbolt port have been implemented. See my sig for an example. Works very well too.

To saturate a Thunderbolt 10Gbps link would require 2xSATA-III (6Gbps) SSDs running in a RAID-0 striped configuration.
 

Mr MM

macrumors 65816
Jun 29, 2011
1,116
1
Correction. external GPUs using the Thunderbolt port have been implemented. See my sig for an example. Works very well too.

To saturate a Thunderbolt 10Gbps link would require 2xSATA-III (6Gbps) SSDs running in a RAID-0 striped configuration.
that would be the case on a sequential read, sometimes write, depends on the model. on random access we are still miles away from saturating anything, specially at lower queue depths, not to mention the consistency is lacking when you are doing that or even some other things
 

fskywalker

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2009
1,223
3
I recently was looking for a thunderbolt equipped external drive and put an order (but later cancelled it) for a Seagate conventional HD that comes with thunderbolt connection. I cancelled it since realized that to reach real high speed communication you cannot rely on conventional rotating hard drives; you may have a thunderbolt interface, but with a regular HD the speed be limited.

Based on this I switched my attention to SSD external hard drives with thunderbolt (to be used on 4 different Mac's home) and USB3.0 (work & home's old PC) connectivity. As you pointed out there a a few vendors out there (Lacie, Buffalo, Verbatim, etc.) with thunderbolt drives; I ended up purchasing the Lacie 256GB SSD (paid $310 shipped) which comes with both USB3.0 and thunderbolt adapters. I have not done speed tests yet with Black Magic to check speeds, but intent to do them to compare USB3.0 versus thunderbolt speed on the drive.

Hope this helps.
 
Nov 28, 2010
22,670
28
located
Oh, it definitely is! But what would real life speed be for like a WD Passport?How long would it take
If the drive can sequentially write or read with 95 MB/s (which is the average speed of a good 2.5" 7,200 RPM S-ATA HDD, 5,400 RPM HDDs are around 75 to 85 MB/s), it would take 10 GB x 1024* / 95 MB/s seconds.

* 1 GB = 1024 MB
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
2
Does anyone anticipate a Thunderbolt 2 with 20 Gb/s being introduced this year?

Just wondering...
 

fskywalker

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2009
1,223
3
I recently was looking for a thunderbolt equipped external drive and put an order (but later cancelled it) for a Seagate conventional HD that comes with thunderbolt connection. I cancelled it since realized that to reach real high speed communication you cannot rely on conventional rotating hard drives; you may have a thunderbolt interface, but with a regular HD the speed be limited.

Based on this I switched my attention to SSD external hard drives with thunderbolt (to be used on 4 different Mac's home) and USB3.0 (work & home's old PC) connectivity. As you pointed out there a a few vendors out there (Lacie, Buffalo, Verbatim, etc.) with thunderbolt drives; I ended up purchasing the Lacie 256GB SSD (paid $310 shipped) which comes with both USB3.0 and thunderbolt adapters. I have not done speed tests yet with Black Magic to check speeds, but intent to do them to compare USB3.0 versus thunderbolt speed on the drive.

Hope this helps.
Finally tested my Lacie 256GB SSD with thunderbolt and USB3.0 cables. Surprisingly, the drive was faster with the USB3.0 cable (383.92 avg with XBench) versus the thunderbolt cable (362.99); both speeds are pretty good anyway, so I'm pleased with the drive!
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
2
Finally tested my Lacie 256GB SSD with thunderbolt and USB3.0 cables. Surprisingly, the drive was faster with the USB3.0 cable (383.92 avg with XBench) versus the thunderbolt cable (362.99); both speeds are pretty good anyway, so I'm pleased with the drive!
How much was it? And where did you get it? Thanks for the info.
 

Mr MM

macrumors 65816
Jun 29, 2011
1,116
1
Finally tested my Lacie 256GB SSD with thunderbolt and USB3.0 cables. Surprisingly, the drive was faster with the USB3.0 cable (383.92 avg with XBench) versus the thunderbolt cable (362.99); both speeds are pretty good anyway, so I'm pleased with the drive!
the averages are not important, how were the spikes?
 

fskywalker

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2009
1,223
3
the averages are not important, how were the spikes?
I just re-run the tests, results are a little different than before, now the thunderbolt shows a faster speed:

Thunderbolt:

Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.8.3 (12D78)
Physical RAM 16384 MB
Model MacBookPro10,1
Drive Type C400-MTFDDAK256MAM
Disk Test 419.25
Sequential 267.83
Uncached Write 416.30 255.60 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 407.44 230.53 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 120.99 35.41 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 551.42 277.14 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 964.62
Uncached Write 903.78 95.68 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 608.27 194.73 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 1959.86 13.89 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 1128.64 209.43 MB/sec [256K blocks]



USB 3.0:

Xbench Version 1.3
System Version 10.8.3 (12D78)
Physical RAM 16384 MB
Model MacBookPro10,1
Drive Type LaCie Rugged THB USB3
Disk Test 369.18
Sequential 228.61
Uncached Write 409.31 251.31 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 360.85 204.17 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 93.26 27.29 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 641.11 322.22 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Random 958.66
Uncached Write 872.39 92.35 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Write 610.10 195.32 MB/sec [256K blocks]
Uncached Read 1818.68 12.89 MB/sec [4K blocks]
Uncached Read 1194.31 221.61 MB/sec [256K blocks]

I bought the drive in Ebay and paid $300 shipped.
 

stchman

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2012
671
2
St. Louis, MO
The fastest SSDs out today transfer ~500MB/s read and write. That's hardly enough to saturate the USB 3.0 interface, much less Thunderbolt.

This is just my opinion, but as far as using an SSD as an external drive is not worth the $$$$, especially on a laptop.

For a desktop it might make sense, but then again most desktop computers have multiple SATA III ports for internal SSDs.

Until SSD type drives come down in price, making an external drive out of an SSD is somewhat pointless seeing as how cheap external HDDs are.
 

fskywalker

macrumors 65816
Nov 6, 2009
1,223
3
The fastest SSDs out today transfer ~500MB/s read and write. That's hardly enough to saturate the USB 3.0 interface, much less Thunderbolt.

This is just my opinion, but as far as using an SSD as an external drive is not worth the $$$$, especially on a laptop.

For a desktop it might make sense, but then again most desktop computers have multiple SATA III ports for internal SSDs.

Until SSD type drives come down in price, making an external drive out of an SSD is somewhat pointless seeing as how cheap external HDDs are.
I don't disagree with your comments, but SSD's are less prone to failure since they don't have moving parts, that means your data will be more secure if used along with a laptop. Just my 2 cents.
 

Mr MM

macrumors 65816
Jun 29, 2011
1,116
1
The fastest SSDs out today transfer ~500MB/s read and write. That's hardly enough to saturate the USB 3.0 interface, much less Thunderbolt.

This is just my opinion, but as far as using an SSD as an external drive is not worth the $$$$, especially on a laptop.

For a desktop it might make sense, but then again most desktop computers have multiple SATA III ports for internal SSDs.

Until SSD type drives come down in price, making an external drive out of an SSD is somewhat pointless seeing as how cheap external HDDs are.
depends if you need stability, USB has a very dangerous problem for some areas, that is the signal fluctuates too much.

and USB 3 might have all that bandwidth theoretically, not that it has in real life.
 

dusk007

macrumors 68040
Dec 5, 2009
3,386
62
In real life today I think most USB controllers today have 280MB/s which is still plenty. It is supposed to reach about 420MB/s once it is as mature as USB 2.0 was when it consistently got 35MB/s.

If you use the external drive as a working medium for some stuff like audio work I heard USB is suboptimal. For 99% of people Thunderbolt is just a waste of money given how insanely expensive the entire setup is compared to dirt cheap USB 3.0 cases. Especially all sorts of backup media don't need anything other than USB.
 

B...

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Mar 7, 2013
1,949
2
So, just to confirm:

The current gen. Thunderbolt ports support 10 Gb/sec. And the internal SSD of most rMBPs is 400-500 MB/s. So that converted to Gb/sec is around 3.5 Gb/sec. So, theoretically, Thunderbolt supports around 3X faster speeds as the internal drive?

Also, Falcon Ridge in 2014 will have a 20 Gb/sec limit--that is 6X faster than any SSD (not in RAID 0) can produce.
 
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