Western Digital Demonstrates Its First Thunderbolt Drive

| Macworld/iWorld Expo

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Western Digital is showing their first Thunderbolt drive at this week’s Macworld Expo. Julie Wiesen, Product Line Manager, told us more about the drive, and gave us an impressive demonstration of its performance.

The My Book Thunderbolt Duo accepts two standard 3.5-inch SATA hard drives, with the unit we were shown having two 3 TB drives. It can be configured as either RAID 0 (striping) which makes the two drives appear as a single 6 TB drive, or RAID 1 (mirroring) which writes content to both drives, providing protection if a drive fails, but resulting in 3 TB of storage. Each enclosure comes with two Thunderbolt ports, which allows them to be daisy chained to provide better performance than a single device.

Western Digital My Book Thunderbolt Duo Daisy Chain

We were told that a single unit could achieve throughput of about 250 MB/sec. To put this in perspective, transferring 6 TB of data via USB 2.0 would take about 6 days, whereas transferring the same about of data via Thunderbolt would take about 6 hours. We were then shown the demonstration system, which consisted of four My Book Thunderbolt Duo units connected via daisy chain, and using RAID so they appeared as a single drive to the Mac. Using Black Magic Design Disk Speed Test, we observed a maximum write speed of 643 MB/sec, and a maximum read speed of 771 MB/sec.

The My Book Thunderbolt Duo will be available in Q1 2012.  Pricing has yet to be determined.


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Ross Edwards

That’s faster than SATA II.  If the price on this is realistic, it really does spell the end of the Mac Pro in terms of being the only expandable Mac—assuming you don’t mind a rat’s nest of boxes and cables behind your top-end iMac.

I don’t need anything the Mac Pro offers EXCEPT its expandability.  If TB really gets us there, and this is the first time I really think I’ve seen an indication that it might, then my next system upgrade is going to be about $3k less than I had originally expected, and the internal drives are just going to be SSD.  I have 4TB of media and it looks like this is going to be good enough to serve it natively through iTunes Home Sharing with file management turned on—which is the real trick in the status quo, the one combination of things you can’t currently do without your media drives being internal.

Derrick Nelson

@Ross Edwards-
The expand ability of the Mac pro has never been about storage. It’s about RAM (up to 64GB), and features like RAID, additional video cards, etc. Yes Thunderbolt closes the gap somewhat, but no other Apple computer has the expansion capabilities and processing power of the Mac Pro.

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