Thunderbolt (also known as Light Peak) was unveiled at the 2009 Intel Developer Forum and only became a real product two years later with Apple's 2011 MacBook Pro update using the same connector as Mini DisplayPort. It would be another year before Thunderbolt finally found its way into PCs, though you'll be forgiven for not realizing as devices that support the new interface are still uncommon.
Fortunately, that's changing. The number of devices running Thunderbolt is growing with options from LaCie, Promise, Buffalo, and now Western Digital. As the adoption of the user interface increases, users will wonder if it is worth investing in. After all, USB 3.0 has only really gained a foothold this year, although most chipsets do not yet offer native support.
In addition, you rarely come across a USB 3.0 storage device that can make the most of the specification's 5 Gbps bandwidth. Modern SSDs are only now coming onto the market, so an expensive 10 Gbit / s interface seems like a hard sell. Thunderbolt is not just another peripheral interface, however, as it combines PCI Express and DisplayPort in a single connection and offers very powerful connectivity combinations.
Since most of the Thunderbolt-enabled products available today are storage-related, we wanted to know what the new Gigabyte Z77X-UP5 TH motherboard and its two Thunderbolt ports had to offer in terms of performance. In our opinion, the best way to achieve this is to try the new ultra-fast Western Digital My Book Velociraptor Duo, which has a pair of Velociraptor hard drives running at 10,000 rpm …
WD Velociraptor Duo in detail
Western Digital jumped on the Thunderbolt train earlier this year and released its My Book Thunderbolt Duo, which combined two 2.5-inch WD Caviar Green drives into a Thunderbolt-equipped My Book chassis. This was an inexpensive way of delivering large storage capacity in a Thunderbolt-enabled device.
The only real problem: performance was limited to around 200MB / s for sequential access, and that doesn't show what Thunderbolt is really capable of. This is also not enough to use a single USB 3.0 port to the maximum. We imagine that in this case many users would find it difficult to justify the Thunderbolt premium.
Currently, the My Book Thunderbolt Duo 4TB is priced at $ 500, while similar USB 3.0 devices such as the Buffalo DriveStation Duo 4TB are available for less than $ 300. What Western Digital had to do was release an external Thunderbolt storage device that could enable much faster transfer speeds – and they did.
The Velociraptor Duo was introduced with a pair of Western Digital VelociRaptor 1TB hard drives that support a spindle speed of 10,000 RPM. These drives were then configured using RAID0 software in the My Book enclosure for a throughput of approximately 400MB / s, which is roughly double the original. This makes the Velociraptor Duo the most powerful external hard drive-based solution we have ever tested.
Not only is it the fastest external hard drive we tested, it's also the most expensive at $ 900 for just 2TB of storage, or $ 0.45 per GB – half the price of today's high-end SSDs, the now earn less than $ 1 per person. GB.