ThunderBolt SSD Backup Drive FAQ

High-Speed ThunderBolt SSD Drive Products

10Gbps, 20Gbps and now 40Gbps ThunderBolt I/O ports clearly push the limits of any consumer data interface yet. Minimally 20 times faster than the popular USB 2.0 specification, and double that of the 4.8Gbps USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard, ThunderBolt - and now 20/40Gbps ThunderBolt 2 & 3 exceeds the bandwidth needs of any personal computer gadgets currently available. Even conventional spinning platter hard drives stacked in a Multi-Drive RAID Array struggle to fully fill ThunderBolt's data pipeline. High-speed flash memory SSD's are a perfect match for ThunderBolt's impressive bandwidth, moreso when solid-state drives or modules are combined into striped RAID 0 configurations.

Currently Shipping SSD ThunderBolt Storage Solutions

Currently, the LaCie Thunderbolt Dual Drive SSD RAID is the best choice for peak performance for the pro and business marketplace. For more affordable single-drive consumer solutions, the LaCie Rugged SSD with combo USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt ports is priced agressively. The somewhat overpriced Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Drive and the new kid on the block: The Akitio Neutrino as well as the Oyen portable ThunderBolt port solid-state drive are several others now available in both 120 and 256GB versions.

Why SSD For ThunderBolt?

It's not suprising that one of the first announced solid-state drive products was the high-end LaCie ThunderBolt LittleBig Disk. It's a dual-drive RAID system AND based on SSD drive technology. Specifically, LaCie mentioned Intel 5xx-Series Solid-State drives would be used in the LittleBig Disk SSD models. That's kind of high-end, since the 5xx series is an Enterprise Class drive using Intel's latest SSD technology and components.

As to the price of LaCie's ThunderBolt offering: Dual 250GB SSD drives are around $200+ apiece no matter what the manufacturer and the price on the LittleBig Disk SSD edition is currently around $679 USD. A 1 Terabyte version is also available for nearly a cool grand. Keep in mind these multi-drive ThunderBolt storage product are pitched towards PROFESSIONAL, HIGH-END users in Video and Audio Editing studios and work environments where Pro users can justify the expense with direct productivity gains.

So what does that mean for you and me - Average 'Joe' consumers just looking for an AFFORDABLE ultra-fast SSD drive with ThunderBolt port? Well now we have at least several external ThunderBolt solid-state drive storage solutions most are be able to afford. Capacity might be an issue however, as these consumer drives are currently only most affordable in modest 120GB and 240GB capacities, though prices on 512GB and 1TB+ SSD's have become more affordable. Connectivity is also restricted a bit as the less costly consumer TBolt drives typically have only a single ThunderBolt port and not two for daisy-chaning convenience. Higher-end drives typically have DUAL TBolt ports making pass-though to multiple device configurations a lot more flexible.

Types Of ThunderBolt Backup Drives

Single Mechanical ThunderBold Drives: These backup drives use a single, conventional spinning-platter mechanism. But in an external ThunderBolt disk enclosure, it's somewhat like putting a Turtle on the Indy 500 Race Track. You'll still have speedy backups, but the drive mechanism won't be able to do the ThunderBolt port's potential justice. What you do get is reasonably fast backups, high-capacity at an entry-level price.

Single ThunderBolt HYBRID SSHD Drive - An incremental improvement over spinning-platter drives. Expecially beneficial for Reading FROM the drive over ThunderBolt - might be best for users who use auxillary files stored on an external drive. The real benefit of Hybrid SSDHD technology is when the drive can CACHE and access recently used data. For high-speed backup purposes, not really ideal since the ThunderBolt pipeline wouldn't re-access any of the cache during a backup.

Single ThunderBolt SSD External Drive - Now we're getting somewhere! At least the mechanical limitations of rotational delay and access times become moot. You'd definitely want a SATA III 6GB/s solid-state drive in a matching ThunderBolt enclosure.

Single ThunderBolt SSD PCIe Module Drive - To take better advantage of a 10Gbps or faster port, external SSD ThunderBolt storage solutions can use PCIe NVMe modules to exceed the limitations of the now aging SATA3 device specification. These modules or blades are very small - the size of memory sticks - so that very compact and portable storage devices the size of a matchbox are possible.

RAID Hard Drive Arrays - Here you'd have to be selective - and buy up. You'd really want at least 7200 RPM large cache drives - ideally a pair of 10K Velociraptor drives to push the limits of even the best mechanical drives like Western Digital is using in it's high-end offering. When 3 or more drive modules are striped, their performance can equal that of solid-state drive technology - at a far lower cost per gigabyte.

RAID SSD ThunderBolt Drive - Smooting out both reads and writes - and letting ThunderBolt hit its stride - clearly, paired SSD's in a Striped RAID 0 config are the true staring point for really impressive performance.

Solid-State Hard Drive

High-Speed ThunderBolt port tecnhology from Intel and Apple is delivering unprecended high-bandwidtly I/O performance for a wide range of computer accessories, peripherals and data storage devices.

The direct 10Gbps pipeline that ThunderBolt taps into via the PCI bus offers mind-blowing backup and data copy speeds when it's matched with equally fast storage technologies, particularly in muli-drive array RAID configurations.

A ThunderBolt SSD - Solid-State disk drive is the best match for the extremely high bandwidth ThunderBolt provides. With no moving parts, high reliability, zero latency and minimal access times, SSD flash memory drives are a perfect match for this new peripheral interface.