I am still waiting for something that I mistakenly thought would eventually be offered by third parties within a year or so after the introduction of Thunderbolt ports on Macintosh computers: a series of relatively inexpensive enclosures, with single drive and multiple drive options.
My thinking, obviously mistaken, was that I would be able to build a relatively inexpensive RAID Level 0 volume by buying an empty dual-drive, or four-drive enclosure, and populate the empty enclosure with separately purchased solid state drives (or, possibly, 10,000 RPM hard drives if the cost of solid state drives of the storage space needed turned out to be too high for my budget).
I guess my first question is this: There are many options available for those who want to save a bit of money by using "build you own drive kit" options. Such kits are readily available for those using SATA or FireWire hard drives or solid state drives. So, after so much time has transpired since Apple first introduced Macintosh computers with Thunderbolt ports, why has no one begun to offer low-cost Thunderbolt enclosures?
Several people have posted their theories on why this has happened, and these theories seem to be fairly well-reasoned, considering the dirth of information available upon which to base any theory. I wonder if there is any additional information that has recently become available that would allow any reader of this thread to, perhaps, answer this question in a bit less theoretical manner.
Also, does anyone know of any low cost enclosures that have recently become available? I know why Thuderbolt cords are expensive, and I do not mind paying $50 for one. But, considering the price of the originally available multiple drive enclosures that are sold with drives included, the extra cost, compared to FireWire, has me thinking that I should just give up on a fast Thunderbolt RAID level 0 multiple drive volume, and just accept the slower speed of a traditional single-drive FireWire drive and use single FireWire drives for all external volumes that I connect to my 27" iMac, 3.4 Ghz desktop computer.
My question for Mac users more knowledgeable than I ammis, should I just start buying FireWire drives, or should I wait a bit longer for low-cost (or even medium-cost) empty Thunderbolt enclosures to become available?
Good points made there.
There are many of us that are in the same position as you, and wondering the same thing.
I think what we are seeing now, is that products are trickling in. I would say if you can wait another 6mos-year you will find exactly what you need. If you can't wait, than I would suggest this:
Forget about Firewire.
Because you have a desktop, get a SATA card, and do RAID on that bus instead.
You will see significant harddrive speed performance. I have an MBPro for video work, a SATA card, and the speed improvment is like night and day.
Other people might tell you to get a SAS card instead, but I beg to differ.
Ifyou go SATA, and 6mos later Thunderbolt enclosure comes out that is cheap and great, you still have large, identical, and therefore useable harddrives that you can install into the Thunderbolt kit. You can sell your SATA card to help offset the price of the new Thunderbolt box.
On the topic of SSD: The people I know that use them have made the following points:
1. Get the smallest one (within reason) that you can afford.
2. Install the OS on it, so you can boot/reboot your computer in literally seconds
3. Any project you do that requires SPEED can be dragged/dropped on to it, then transfered later on to the slower drive.
Thanks for the well-reasoned reply. Actually, I think that the root of my problem originated in my foolish attempt to save money. When I finally was dragged kicking and screaming away from G5 (by the need for an Intel-driven Mac), I was shocked by two things: (1) How fast iMacs had become vis-a-vis Mac Pros; and (2) how expensive Mac Pros had become compared to iMacs. On my G5, I had a SATA four-drive, RAID volume similar to what you recommend. And, it was everything you say it would be - very fast! It had a SATA port for every drive.
But, I mistakenly figured, hey, with this cool Thunderbolt stuff, who needs eSATA (bad idea). Anyway, now that I no longer have access to eSATA (without some sort of Other World Computing surgery on my iMac), my only other option is FireWire (slow, really slow compared to my old eSATA volume). Anyway, I can hear all of the Mac Pro owners saying: "See? One gets what one pays for."
So, I think I will take your advice and wait a while. One thing that is nice about my iMac is the SSD. I am doing exactly what you say and, you are right, having the OS on the SSD, and all of my data on the 2TB SATA drive makes thIngs go fast. But, I suspect that a Thunderbolt SSD RAID level 0 might be a nice external option to have. In the meantime, any external stuff is done via a FireWire drive and it is slow. But, still, I think I will take your advice and wait.
Thanks for the excellent post.
I assumed incorrectly that you had a desktop.
You might want to check out the "ifixit.com" website and see how much surgury it actually entails.
Ripping apart a Mac is scary stuff, but I've done it so many times to my laptop now, that it's less intimidating than it used to be.
On the topic of firewire, I have had nothing but bad experiences with kits.
Wrong chipset, drives dying for no reason, I cannot even count or remember how many of those boxes I've owned.
If your system is working, good on ya.
I was kicking myself for the MacMini I purchased, because 2 months later they came out with Thunderbolt.
Now, a year later, and still very little on the market, I don't feel so bad about my purchase!
The firewire stuff you are exposing sounds familiar to me. But easy-fixing. Buy a good enclosure. In ebay , the prices moves bewtween x and 3x. Buy a good one. I have been using my firewire 800 2, 5 inches for two years. No problems.
This is the one
Thereis a new one with usb 3.0, but i cant recommended because i never tryed it.
Hope it helps.
I am a graphic designer in the market for a storage solution since moving from a macpro to the latest 27" iMac. I am buying FW800. It is a mature and solid connection. I'm guessing the chipset for Thunderbolt is a bit troublesome and I'll wait for the manufacturers to sort out the bugs. Give'em a year or two.
Most of this is pointless for anything other than convenience. SSD, yes I can see the point of, but its been released when USB3 is new and in huge demand. Nothing right now can exceed the speed offered by USB3 to justify the building of a Thunderbolt case, and USB3 offers backwards compatibility that allows it to work in USB2 equipped Macs (and PCs obviously). I love thunderbolt and the whole idea, but a single thunderbolt chip from intel is $30, compared to $7 for a USB3 one due to the fact its an open maket and therefore competition drives down prices.
So in short, an enclosure could be made, but it will cost you in the region of $100. I wish Apple would just use USB3 already and stop making me wait. It's not like they have a reason not to.
I agree with your statement that Apple should start using USB 3. Why sell computers with USB 2 when USB 3 is available?
However, I don't think that the discussion as to when Thunderbolt enclosures will be available is pointless. Actually, if there were Thunderbolt enclosures out there for sale that cost $100, I would buy one.
This discussion is about when, if ever, someone will start offering Thunderbolt enclosures, preferably multiple drive enclosures, for sale so that we can add SSDs, or multiple SSDs (or even hard drives) of our choice, in order to build very fast RAID volumes to our system without paying the huge amounts that multiple drive Thunderbolt enclosures (with drives already installed) currently cost.
Thats true, but you see, here's my beef with the idea. Currently the fastest SATA SSD out there is 640MB/s to 720 reportedly. SATA itself is the bottleneck if you're going for pure bleeding edge performance, and that's before you even get to the RAID controller. SAS is no different at 6Gb/s (700 ish MB/s).
My point is, with overhead accounted for you might get 1GB/s (around 8/Gb/s) and at that point it doesn't matter what SSD you have, your 'Huge amounts of multiple drives' will only consist of two... maybe three if your SSD's are slow. With that small a number you may as well Daisy Chain and software RAID.
If that was explained in too roundabout a way, consider this. 1x old Intel 590 = roughly 500 megabytes per second (or 4Gigabits/second). With three daisy chained, you're completely out of bandwidth (3x4Gb =12Gb which is 2Gb more than the data portion of the standard)
If you still want to do just that. I refer you to this and ask you to wait with baited breath. http://www.CalDigit.com/Thunderbolt/T1T2.html#T1
Oh, and to finalize on the USB3 suggestion, I wasn't just faulting Apple as it may have seemed. I was more interested in pointing out that if the limits of the SAS and SATA connection themselves are the same limits as USB3, then performance gains of multiple individually connected drives in RAID would be pretty near identical (other than protocol overhead) over both, and USB3 WILL be cheaper, and probably always will when compared to Thunderbolt.
The only way to make a faster hard drove would be to release a thunderbolt native SSD with TB connectors on the internal unit. Or wait for a new SATA standard to arrive, which would mean waiting for a new enclosure array to arrive that would support these new SATA speeds.
Your points are generally well made. However, I take issue with your inaccurate reading of what I said, to wit, you misquote me here:
"your 'Huge amounts of multiple drives' will only consist of two... maybe three if your SSD's are slow."
Please note that what I actually said was this:
"without paying the huge amounts that multiple drive Thunderbolt enclosures (with drives already installed) currently cost."
In other words, I was not advocating that one attached "huge amounts" of drives.
I was saying that the current multiple drive RAID enclosures, with drives already installed, cost "huge amounts" ... huge amounts of dollars, that is.