ADAM GARSTONE reviews two new storage products that both offer Thunderbolt connections and RAID options. That’s where the similarities end as disk speeds and mobility issues take over.
Let’s face it, data storage is not the most exciting facet of filmmaking. A new 4k camera or some innovative LED lighting solution, or even some whizzy new effect for your favourite NLE is surely going to stir the blood far more than another hard disc.
A couple of new products from G-Technology and LaCie have, however, piqued our interest here at Definition Towers.
G-Technology have established an enviable reputation in the post-production world through the simple premise of making well built, reliable hard discs. They aren’t necessarily the fastest, and they certainly aren’t the cheapest, but they work – and that counts for a lot.
The G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt is a two disc docking station with a Thunderbolt interface. Each disc can be mounted separately, or the two can be configured a a RAID 0 or 1 pair (using software RAID – there isn’t a hardware RAID controller built in). The G-Dock is very solidly made out of heavy grade aluminium alloy. Unlike some docks I’ve used, the drives locate very securely and, with the download of the appropriate software, the status of the drives is shown on LEDs on the front panel. The rear has two Thunderbolt ports – perhaps a little disappointingly they are Thunderbolt 1 so would have to sit at the end of a Thunderbolt 2 chain to avoid reducing the entire chain to 10Gb/s.
What makes the G-Dock unusual is that the undocked discs function as stand-alone, portable USB 3 drives (though not, obviously, if you are using them as RAID pairs). Each disc is a 1TB, 7200 RPM ‘laptop’ drive with up to 32MB cache in a sturdy, aluminium case. The G-Dock comes with the dock, two discs, a Thunderbolt cable and two USB 3 cables and both the dock and drives have a 3 year warranty. The G-Dock can also use the G-Drive ev Plus discs which are physically slightly larger but also much faster – they are rated at 250MB/s against the standard disc’s 136MB/s.
The supplied, standard spec discs didn’t manage to achieve the quoted speed using Blackmagic’s Disk Speed Test, getting about 115MB/s write and 125MB/s read as a single disc, with 216MB/s write and 233MB/s read as a RAID 0 array. Single disc speeds were the same over USB 3 as over Thunderbolt.
There is a special offer on at the time of writing – if you buy the G-Dock now, your £450 (plus VAT) will get you 2 extra 1TB G-Drives.
If you are really looking for speed in a portable disc – and you have the money – then the LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 might be more up your street, or down your alley, or whatever.
This small drive – in a black case following LaCie’s standard design with a big, blue, domed LED – consists of two PCIe (Gen 2) SSDs preconfigured (software) RAID 0 for speed. The rear of the unit has two Thunderbolt 2 ports to allow daisy-chaining, a Kensington lock and the exhaust for the fan – thermally controlled so, in general, pretty much silent. The LBD T2 (they really need to come up with a snappier name) weighs only 620g (without its power supply) and yet, in our tests, achieved write speeds of 1062 MB/s and reads at 1175MB/s – yes, that’s over 1GB/s! So here’s a drive that will handle multiple streams of (compressed) 4k with no problem and yet will slip into a backpack. Just be sure your backpack is well insured – the 1TB Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 costs $1299 from the LaCie store. I’m sure the price will come down though… a bit.