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Where are the thunderbolt HDD enclosures and other peripherals ?

99655 Views 194 Replies Latest reply: Apr 19, 2014 10:08 AM by Csound1 RSS Branched to a new discussion.
  • jeremyfromsnohomish Calculating status...

    Yeah, I've already upgraded to Mac Pro Retina and am using USB 3 enclosures for my SSD and regular HD. =P

     

    I still want Thunderbolt enclosures regardless.

  • Casemon Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Tired of waiting for empty TB JBOD enclosures (for ZFS array YAH!), I'd go USB3 if only the Mac Mini supported it

  • DTC Calculating status...

    I suggest someone start to manufacturer basic enclosures that fit around the standard 2.5" and 3.5" form factors, molded to fit onto the Seagate Go Flex/Backup plus thunderbolt adapters (the 2.5" one is $99 on the apple store). 

     

    Whoever produces it can charge $10 to $30 for a plastic enclosure (that prob costs $0.50 to make), for a nice profit, since we already have the adapters that they could attach to.  I'd buy one if it was $20 or less.   You can already stick a raw drive onto the adapters because their interface to the HD is a straight SATA connector, however they aren't solid connections because you need an enclosure to hold them on solidly.  We just need someone to make the plastic piece (hey, what materials do those 3D printers use, maybe someone could make one from that)?

  • dnorm Calculating status...

    looks like the drobo folks are rolling out two thunderbolt/3.0 enclosures:

     

    http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-5d/index.php

     

    still shows prerelease but amazon has it listed for 849.

     

    there is also the drobo mini:

     

    http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-mini/index.php

     

    looks like it is also pre release

     

    this one release out of stock on amazon.

     

    i view it positively that they at least have stuff listed for sale on amazon - hopefully this means it's not too far out.

     

    both pieces of hardware look good, with cables included and a daisy chain port.

     

    now we just need some competition to drive the price down - drobo has always been spendy though.

  • Phillip Lovgren Calculating status...

    This looks very good although a lttle spendy for me right now. I just need something for a home DAW iMac setup.

     

    I think I'll invest in a couple of fast FW 800 external 7200 rpm SATA HDs for now and later I can pull the drives from their enclosiers and put them into something like this and eventually replace or add to them with SSD drives as SSD prices fall. 

  • gsbe Calculating status...

    There are lots of companies that have put out press releases or shown a device at a trade show that work with Thunderbolt. Unfortuantately, the majority of these have not been released yet.

  • Casemon Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    Drobo can be spendy sure, but is also a terrible performer and often quite buggy; not a winning combination IMO.

  • J. White Calculating status...

    Drobos are a poor choice for reliable mass storage.  While "beyondRAID" is an interesting idea, their implementation leaves a lot to be desired.  I purchased two Drobo S units with the intent of using one for home storage and mirroring it to the other unit, housed off-site.  I've had various problems with both units in the last 1.5 years, the latest being the home unit will lock up every 3-4 weeks.  The unit has started failing drives and then immediately start reconstructing back to them.

     

    My biggest gripe about Drobo is that the useful portions of their diagnostic logs are encrypted and have to be sent off to Drobo in order to find out why your device flaked out.  After your initial warranty expires, you have no way to get useful diagnostic info. from Drobo without plunking down for their extended warranty.  It's all-around stupidly expensive, and I'd forgive that aspect if it was solid, reliable technology.

     

    I don't trust Drobo with my data because it's never earned it.

  • sbywalt Calculating status...

    Well, the author of the original post and I are still waiting for that INEXPENSIVE enclosure to come out so that there will be an option faster than Firewire 800 that can be connected to our iMac 27" 3.4 GHz desktop computers (and, yes, I know that an iMac is similar to a laptop, so that I should be using the word "desktop" in quotes).  However, for better or worse, many of us that used to use PowerMac G5's or Mac Pros are now using iMacs.  We were used to the idea of expanding our systems by adding RAID Level 0 enclosures, and thought, correctly or incorrectly, that at some point, we would be able to add relatively fast RAID Level 0 enclosures to our iMac's via Firewire.

     

    The owners of more current iMacs now have other options, but there are some of us who still own iMacs where the ONLY options are USB 2 (so slow that it is not really an option), Firewire 800 (still slow compared to the SATA 2 or 3 RAID Level 0 volumes that we connected via PCI X or PCI Express cards), or Thunderbolt.  This is the reason for this thread.

     

    As I see it, the basic question is not whether USB 3.0 or anything else would be preferable to Thunderbolt.  For better or worse, Thunderbolt and Firewire 800 (with its comparatively slower speed) are the only options available to us.  Hence our question: "when are the inexpensive Thunderbolt enclosures going to be offered for sale, if ever?

     

    I know that we will never get the $60 to $70 price that we were used to paying for empty SATA enclosures.  So, our definition of inexpensive, or even "reasonably-priced," enclosures will need to be adjusted a bit, to say the least.  However, it would be absurd for an iMac owner to pay $850 for an external hard drive enclosure.  At that price, one might as well simply add a bit more to that price and go ahead and buy an external drive already populated by two or four SSDs, or 10,000 RPM drives, and be done with it (and this option is looking more and more like the only reasonable option available to us pre-USB 3.0 iMac owners).

     

    However, the contributor who posted the original question and I (as well as many others), have been waiting for quite a while now, and there still does not seem to be any empty enclosure option available for substantially under $200 (my new and improved definition of "inexpensive").  So, why is this?  It seemed to me, and apparently others, that Thunderbolt was intended to do many things, and amongst these many things, it was to be an option for one to attach fast external drives.

     

    Now, I am not saying that the one and only reason for buying an iMac over a Mac Pro is the lower price.  However, I would be willing to bet that there are many who, like me, moved from Mac towers, like the 9500, the G4, the G5, and the Mac Pro, over to the iMac line, primarily because the Mac Pro's price had become so much more expensive than the iMac line.  So, if many buyers are motivated by price, what sense does it make to spend $850 to $1,200 on an external RAID Level 0 volume when, in the past, we were able to build software-based SATA RAID level 0 volumes for around $300 (drives included) that were connected to our Mac G5's or other tower-type Macs?

     

    I might be wrong, but it seems like Thunderbolt was designed to, amongst other things, provide a way for iMac owners to add fast external volumes to their iMacs.  And, considering the logic behind one of the main motives for going iMac rather than Mac Pro, it seems like at Apple, there might (emphasis on "might") have been an expectation that, at some point, various third party manufacturers would begin offering Thunderbolt enclosures that would be inexpensive enough to be a logical option for one who had chosen to buy an iMac based on a price that was substantially lower than a Mac Pro (and who intended to save yet more money by buying these external enclosures separately from the hard drives or SSDs and then using the empty enclosures to create software-based RAID level 0 volumes using already-owned SSDs or hard drives, or SSD or hard drives purchased from third party vendors at much lower price than one would need to pay for an already-competed external enclosure containing two to four hard drives or SSDs).

     

    So far, it looks like the only options for creating a Thunderbolt RAID volume are so expensive that they are a logical purchase for primarily Mac Pro owners.  And, owners of pre-USB 3.0 iMacs are left with only two options: (1) wishing that they had just gone ahead and paid the extra money for a Mac Pro; or (2) deciding that external RAID volumes are designed only for Mac Pro users.  And, there is a logical corollary to this:  "At this point, Thunderbolt is of little use to iMac owners, unless their decision to buy an iMac rather than a Mac Pro was based on some factor other than price."

  • sbywalt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Please note my mistake in the last sentence to the first paragraph in my post above.  It should read, "We were used to the idea of expanding our systems by adding RAID Level 0 enclosures, and thought, correctly or incorrectly, that at some point, we would be able to add relatively fast RAID Level 0 enclosures to our iMac's via Thunderbolt," rather than, "We were used to the idea of expanding our systems by adding RAID Level 0 enclosures, and thought, correctly or incorrectly, that at some point, we would be able to add relatively fast RAID Level 0 enclosures to our iMac's via Firewire."

  • sbywalt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    More simply put, in my December 12, 2012, 4:04 PM post above, the last word of the first paragraph should read "Thunderbolt," instead of "Firewire."

     

    Pleas excuse my mistake.  Does anyone know if there is there any way to edit a post on on this site, once it is posted?

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,375 points)

    You have 15 minutes to edit a post after it is posted, then it becomes read only.

  • gen_ Level 2 Level 2 (335 points)

    sbywalt wrote:

     

    So far, it looks like the only options for creating a Thunderbolt RAID volume are so expensive that they are a logical purchase for primarily Mac Pro owners.  And, owners of pre-USB 3.0 iMacs are left with only two options: (1) wishing that they had just gone ahead and paid the extra money for a Mac Pro; or (2) deciding that external RAID volumes are designed only for Mac Pro users.  And, there is a logical corollary to this:  "At this point, Thunderbolt is of little use to iMac owners, unless their decision to buy an iMac rather than a Mac Pro was based on some factor other than price."

    I can see your point but it holds no water. Mac Pro owners that are not a the extremely(!) high end of the spectrum can either use USB 3.0 or buy a USB 3.0 internal cards and spend less money for the same bandwidth. The main reason they don't is twofold.

     

    One is that it is the path of least resistance, they can get a TB hard drive array fromt he same place they got their Mac and be comfortable in the knowldege that they may have been extorted but every thing will Just WorkTM. That is very very important in places where there is a lot of money on the line and many people are absolutely computer illiterate outside of one program or work tool.

     

    Two is that USB is not being pushed by Apple. You'd be surprised how much it matters that USB 3 is not Apple's new toy. Funnily enough TB is not Apple's new toy, it's Intels and a lot of the money you are paying for it is the combined might of the manufacturing industry opposing it due to they ridiculous licensing costs ($20 per unit for a TB chip vs USB3 that costs them less than $2 to manufacture, and more for a daisy chaining chip plus the fact that it doesn't sell well forces quite a markup).

  • sbywalt Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    gen,  I see your point, but apparently I did not explain my point directly enough.  In the end, I think that you will agree that we agree.

     

    My point was not that Thunderbolt is such a wonderful option for the Mac Pro line.  My point is that it is not of as much use to the owners of pre-USB 3.0 iMacs as the owners of pre-USB 3.0 iMacs had thought it would be when they purchased their pre USB 3.0 iMacs.

     

    I guess I should have said, "If Thunderbolt is useful to anyone, it would be of more use to Mac Pro owners than to owners of iMacs (emphasis on the word "If").  I agree that even for Mac Pro owners, under many circumstances, there are better options than Thunderbolt.  The fact that Thunderbolt is potentially faster than USB 3.0 is a factor only when the RAID level 0 volume is configured in a manner that can take advantage of the extra speed (and, I agree that very often, this will not be the case).

     

    I agree with you that even for Mac Pro owners, Thunderbolt is not always the best option.  However, because the last tower-type Mac I owned was a pre-Intel Power Mac G5, I can speak with no authority on this issue, but I am willing to take your word on the issue, and your logic seems to be right on the mark.

     

    But, back to the issue at hand, my point, and probably the point of the person who made the initial post, has nothing to do with Mac Pros (even if I used a comparison using Mac Pros as a contrast to the usefulness, or lack thereof, of Thunderbolt to iMac users).

     

    So, in other words, I was not trying to say that Thunderbolt is some sort of wonderful option for Mac Pro owners.  My point was regarding iMacs only.  And, that point was that Thunderbolt is of little use to them until inexpensive (or even reasonably-priced) empty Thunderbolt enclosures hit the market.

     

    And, for owners of pre-USB 3.0 iMacs, this problem is exacerbated by the fact that there is no other option that would provide a fast connection to these iMacs for fast RAID Level 0 volumes.  When these iMacs were originally sold, it appeared logical that third parties would start manufacturing empty Thunderbolt enclosures in the same manner that empty SATA enclosures were manufactured and sold for those seeking a relatively fast software RAID level 0 external volume.

     

    Back then, for owners of Power Mac G5s, one could, for a small price, buy an eSATA PCI card and connect two or four drives via the card where each drive within the RAID level 0 volume had its own SATA connection.  I did this.  My software-based RAID level 0 volume was not as fast as a hardware-based RAID level 0 volume would have been, but it was way less expensive, and it was much faster than a single drive firewire volume would have been, and faster than the Firewire 800 connection that is my only realistic option now.

     

    I thought (and probably many others thought) that, at some point, similar reasonably-priced multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosures would eventually come to the market.  We waited and waited, but there is still nothing on the market (that I can see) that would allow one to build a reasonably-priced RAID level 0 volume, using a reasonably-priced multi-drive Thunderbolt enclosure for creating a RAID level 0 volume composed of such an enclosure that is populated by already-owned, or inexpensive "raw" SSDs or 10,000 RPM drives sold by third parties.

     

    True, Apple has partially cured this problem by now including USB 3.0 on iMacs.  But, that does nothing for me.  So, once again, the point is this:  For pre-USB 3.0 iMacs, Thunderbolt has not lived up to my expectations (reasonable or not) that Thunderbolt could be used to connect fast external volumes in the manner that I used an inexpensive SATA RAID Level 0 volume on my Powermac G5 (and, admittedly, this volume was not connected to an iMac, but the principle would be the same - the use of a fast connection to connect a fast, but inexpensive, volume that was created using an inexpensive enclosure populated by inexpensive third-party drives).

     

    And, my inability to apply the same "build your own software-based RAID level 0 volume" is unavailable to me because no one is selling the types of inexpensive enclosures that were sold when I used an eSATA enclosures (priced in the vicinity of $60 US) to connect my software-based RAID level 0 volume to my Power Mac G5.  I am wondering, and others are wondering, "why is it that no one is selling the same types of inexpensive enclosures for Thunderbolt that were, and are, available for eSATA volumes?"

     

    I understand that, due to the difference in the platform, an empty Thunderbolt enclosure would necessarily be more expensive than an eSATA enclosure (or Thunderbolt to SATA adapter).  However, it is difficult for me to believe that what was done for $60 as an eSATA enclosure must cost $200 to $850 for a Thunderbolt enclosure (or adapter).  If an empty Thunderbolt enclosure (or adapter) cost $100 I would buy it, and might even if it cost $150.  But, it there a justifiable reason why the price of an empty enclosure has gone from $60 for an empty eSATA enclosure to $200 to $850 for an empty Thunderbolt enclosure (or adapter)?

     

    And, once again, I am talking ONLY about connecting a fast external enclosure to an iMac that has ONLY Thunderbolt, Firewire 800, and USB 2.0 as the ONLY potential external hard drive connections.  And, I know that I could use Firewire or USB 2.0 to connect external hard drives, but using either of those would defeat the purpose of using a RAID level 0 volume.

     

    But, the issue hear is, the one and only FAST connection for a possible RAID level 0 volume on my iMac is Thunderbolt.  So suggestions regarding USB 3.0 cannot be implemented on my particular class of iMac. I still appreciate the good intentions of those who have made such suggestions, but the fact of the matter is, my iMac does not have that connection, so I cannot implement any USB 3.0 suggestions or any suggestions that involve connections other than Thunderbolt (or, theoretically and unrealistically, Firewire 800 or USB 2.0).

     

    So, unless somebody starts selling a reasonably-priced Thunderbolt enclosure, I will not have the option of connecting a fast external volume to my iMac, period.  Should I keep waiting, or just give up and buy a new computer?

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