Western Digital Shows off Thunderbolt External Drives at CES 2012

Western Digital Shows off Thunderbolt External Drives at CES 2012

While most of 2011 saw meagre availability of Thunderbolt equipped products, it's only natural to harbor thoughts if it would go by the way of FireWire - a connectivity standard that was useful and fast, but was mostly on the sidelines as USB took center stage with its ubiquitous reach on a wider variety of peripherals. While it’s too early to tell how well Thunderbolt would fare in the long run, you can expect new high-end devices to feature this standard. With 10Gbps link speed per direction (downstream and upstream respectively), Thuderbolt is fast enough that external storage arrays using this interface would feel as if they resided locally within the system. Imagine video editing without having the files stored on the local system’s drive - that can be a reality with Thunderbolt.

Western Digital joined this elite group of products by showing off their upcoming My Book Thunderbolt Duo, a dual-drive external storage system. Thunderbolt’s transfer speeds far exceed what a single mechanical drive can transfer, thus you’re likely to only find Thunderbolt on RAID enabled arrays such as this product from WD. As with any other of WD’s past dual-drive storage systems, it allows you to set RAID 0 or RAID 1 setting to either increase transfer speeds and disk capacity utilization, or set them to mirror content for added assurance.

Shown here are four units of 6TB drives daisy chained via Thunderbolt to take full advantage of the 24TB of storage. Imagine the transfer speeds.... and the cost!

The WD My Book Thunderbolt Duo comes with no other connectivity options but dual Thunderbolt ports to allow daisy-chaining with more such drives to increase storage capacity and performance collectively. Clearly, it’s targeted to address high-end needs.

It will be offered in 4TB and 6TB options only and will be officially launched at the next MacWorld Expo, which is just weeks away. Pricing and retail availability aren’t yet confirmed but second quarter of 2012 is a likely possibility according to the Western Digital rep at the show.

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