LaCie First to Ship Desktop 5TB External HDD

Inside Seagate's drive rumored but not annnounced
This is a Press Release edited by on 2014.02.25

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LaCie S.A., now brand of Seagate Technology plc, announced the availability of 5TB, 7200rpm hard-drive capacities in its 5big Thunderbolt Series, 2big Thunderbolt Series and d2 Thunderbolt Series.

LaCie 5TB External Hard Driv

Delivering external storage products that range from 5TB single drive systems to 25TB RAID solutions boosts storage capacity by 20%.

Increasingly larger file formats for film and photography have driven the demand for more storage capacity. The availability of 5TB HDDs enables to deliver more storage capacity in its same compact desktop designs.

5big Thunderbolt now features a capacity of up to 25TB, which makes it the largest 5-bay storage solution on the market. Combined with speeds up to 785MB/s*, it is a product for video professionals to pair with a Thunderbolt-enabled computer, like the new Mac Pro, to drive 4K workflows. Photography professionals will appreciate the larger capacities of the d2 Thunderbolt and 2big Thunderbolt, with the same fast transfer speeds and responsive photo browsing that they depend on from these products.

The new capacities are also available on the LaCie 2big Quadra and d2 Quadra storage solutions. All products can be purchased at the LaCie Online Store and its resellers.

The professional storage solutions are protected by a three-year limited warranty. It includes complimentary web-based resources, expert in-house technical support, and worldwide repair/replacement coverage. Warranty extensions and Advance Care Option can also be purchased.

*Tests conducted in RAID-0 with five 4TB 7,200rpm drives. Speeds depend on the drives and RAID mode used, and average transfer rates may vary from one computer to another and from one product to another.

Our Comments

Rumors are not always confirmed. But this one was. Based on an inside Seagate's source, we revealed last December 11 that Seagate was supposed to launch in 1Q14 a new 3.5-inch HDD at 5TB with five 1TB platters. Of course, we got a phone call from an unhappy Seageate's PR asking for our source that, of course, we didn't reveal.

The new unit, not already officially announced by the HDD maker and invisible on its web site, is integrated into the new external units here announced by Seagate's brand LaCie. This information was confirmed to by Philippe Rault, product manager, LaCie.

He added that this drive was using current TGMR (Tunneling Giant Magneto-Resistive) technology, not SMR (Shingle Magnetic Recording). Today, Toshiba is the only other HDD manufacturer with this kind of 3.5-inch 5TB device with 10 heads and 5 disks rotating at 7,200rpm with SAS 2.0 or SATA-2.6/3.0 interface.

Concerning the next step in capacity after 4TB, Seagate's CEO Steve Luczo said during an earning call, that his company will reveal 6TB HDD in 2Q14. HGST is the only one at 6TB with a drive filled of helium gas and is the only company offering this innovative technology that Seagate is supposed not to embrace. Toshiba didn't say anything up to now about helium.

It's not the first time an HDD maker prefers to first launch a new HDD into an external unit before announcing specifically an internal model. That's a good way for their external disk subsystems to lead the market for a while.

So now LaCie is the only one with an external desktop drive at 5TB with 5Gb USB 3.0 and 10Gb (not 20Gb) Thunderbolt interfaces, also with AES-256 software encryption, backup software, and Wuala cloud storage, but at a high price, $500 on Apple Store or $100/TB (but at $450 directly from LaCie), the same price/capacity than 3TB and 4TB units as this figure generally decreased when capacity increased.

Thunderbolt is a niche market as Apple is the only big computer manufacturer offering this fast interface. But it's a lucrative segment with high margin. USB 3.0 4TB LaCie Porsche Design costs $220, new Thunderbolt being at $400 for same capacity.

LaCie seems to be the current leader in Thunderbolt external storage systems in front of Promise - that was the first in Thunderbolt RAID and in 20Gb Thunderbolt - and G-Technology.

Other companies involved in this Apple/Intel interface for storage include:
Areca (RAID), CRU (enclosure), Atto, OWC (RAID, expansion chassis, SSD), HighPoint (RAID), Buffalo (HDD and RAID), RaidSystems (RAID), Akitio (SSD), MacWay (dock), Sonnet (RAID, PCIe expansion chassis, flash card), Oyen Digital (SSD), Data Watch (RAID), Netstor (RAID, PCIe expansion chassis), Magma (PCIe expansion chassis), Certon Systems (RAID), Drobo (RAID), CalDigit (removable HDD/SSD, RAID), Freecom, mLogic (PCIe expansion chassis), Small Tree (PCIe expansion chassis), Studio Network Solutions (SAN), and WD.

The 25TB 5big Thunderbolt box is priced at $2,499.

Note that Seagate has decided to keep its own brand name for external storage devices for Windows, LaCie now being concentrated only on the Apple market.