Seagate Starts Selling GoFlex Portable Thunderbolt Adapter
The slow trickle of new Thunderbolt products continues. Seagate has begun selling a $99 Thunderbolt SATA adapter for portable (2.5") external hard drives:
The GoFlex series is a set of external hard drives with interchangeable interface adapters that allow their hard drives to switch between different interfaces. Existing adapters include USB 3.0, Firewire, and eSATA. This new adapter offers Thunderbolt support for existing portable GoFlex customers. One reader notes that the interface is simply an SATA interface, so this adapter could be used with any bare 2.5" SATA hard drive.
Seagate first announced the Thunderbolt adapters at CES and is also planning on offering a desktop version of the adapter for $199 in February.
Macworld had a hands on with the portable unit and found it did indeed perform faster than Firewire 800 (and of course USB)
Using the new Thunderbolt adapter, we saw write speeds of 78.8MBps, or 40 percent faster than FireWire 800. Read speeds were about 79.3MBps, about 13 percent faster than FireWire 800.
The performance gains were only so big since they were testing against a single non-SSD drive. Previous Thunderbolt benchmarks have shown much larger boosts but only when using SSD and RAID configurations, eliminating some of the drive bottlenecks.
As it's aimed at the portable market, there are some other limitations with the device. The device only has a single Thunderbolt port, so it must be at the end of the chain. However, it is also bus-powered so no external power supply is required. (The upcoming $199 desktop model reportedly will have an external power supply and additional Thunderbolt port.) Also, the $99 price doesn't include a Thunderbolt cable which still runs $50 at the Apple online store.
So, the entire setup will add a $150 premium to your hard drive purchase, but is one of the few single-drive external Thunderbolt drive options available today.
Update: Note, that Seagate's GoFlex adapter is simply a standard SATA connector, so it could be used as a bare 2.5" SATA Hard Drive -> Thunderbolt adapter.
Top Rated Comments
Haha. I remember when they said that about Firewire.
I just ordered one of these and the Apple Thunderbolt cable.
I've been using GoFlex drives for a couple years now. What's great about the adapters is that it's just a typical SATA+power connector which allows you to plug in ANY 2.5" SATA drive using any of the adapters (USB2, USB3, Firewire, etc). Because the Thunderbolt adapter is compatible with any GoFlex portable drive, you essentially have a Thunderbolt to 2.5" SATA cable.
For example, here's an image of a GoFlex USB3 adapter connected to a non-GoFlex drive (http://f.josh.sc/goflex_usb3.jpg).
I just wanted to point that out because it's not really known to people not using GoFlex products.
First Apple gets rid of FW800 in the cheaper computers it sells. Then it comes out with a port that forces people to use something where devices cost a lot more.
Apple really should have supported USB3. It is almost a no brainer since it is backwards compatible and it costs much less.
The truth about these portable drives is that they can physically only go so fast. Even 3.5" desktop drives are limited to what they can physically pump out. As soon as you put any data on a single drive they start to slow down. By the time a drive gets to 50% full it isn't running as fast as it did when it was empty. Even a 2 drive raid-0 can only go so fast with magnetic drives and will be limited in speed to less then what USB3 can already do. You would need at least a 4 drive raid-0 or a 2 drive raid-0 with good SSD's to get anywhere near thunderbolt speeds.
Thunderbolt is nice and I plan on using it for other devices but for storage it is a couple of years ahead of its time. Some may consider that awesome but it just isn't practical yet unless like somebody said you are one of the poor suckers on a MBA. The MBA could have easily had USB3 however for a much lower cost and easier to find products. I love Apple products but I wish more users would stand up and speak out about these types of decisions.
The one advantage to this adapter is that it can move from drive to drive. This means if companies do start selling portable drives with TB they could cost $100.00 more then non TB versions of the same drive. With this adapter you can get by with only paying for TB once which can be huge if you really have to use TB over FW800.
The desktop version for $199.00 is nuts. The TB stuff costs them the same and the only difference is the form factor of the dock and a power connector. Why this should cost an extra $100.00 makes no sense at all.
Thunerbolt is terrible as a widespread interconnect because of the controller chip cost, limited chaining capability, and system resource costs.