Connectivity Thunderbolt

Just wanted to throw this out there to see what Apple folks are thinking about the new Thunderbolt I/O connections? I personally have a drawer full of apple connection cable from the last 4 renditions of I/O port concepts.

Do you think Drobo will adapt like Lacie has?

I Look forward to your replies.


Frankly, I don’t think so. Drobo has been slow or conservative to incoporate state-of-the-art interface in the Drobo lines. The latest B1200i for example has 3x1 Gigabite iSCSI not Ten. So, unless other bigger vendors start adopting & deploying T-bolts on large scale, new model will continue to be USB3, eSATA & hopefully 10Gig iSCSI.

Really rambo? I think with the amount of mac users out there WANTING thunderbolt storage that Drobo would be crazy not to support this. It might not make it in the high end versions but anything from the DroboPro down is very affordable for home users. Those are the users that will have the new Macbook Pro and iMac machines that support Thunderbolt and are willing to support a high speed disk storage solution. Keep in mind that most mac users only have firewire speeds. USB3 is non-existent for us laptop users. There is a market out there and I believe Promise is going to be the first to cash in on it.

I have a 1st gen Drobo and stuck at usb 2 speeds. It’s slow. It’s dog slow. I believe Drobo WILL come out and support Thunderbolt and when they do I will be the first to buy. The old Drobo will be used as off-site backup storage.

It’s been explained a dozen or so (although I’m from a “base 10” country, “a dozen or so” sounds kind of cool to me somehow) of times before in the case of Thunderbolt and more general interface discussions. So here we go again: it’s not the USB interface which makes low-end Drobos slow and as such there’s no (other than from marketing POV) point putting TB in the entry-level Drobo model. Furthermore, as there’s usually at least one metaphor explaining the matter by comparing the Drobo to some real-life situation, I go and try my own take on this:

Could a cyclist go any faster on a 8-lane highway than than he does on a 2-lane highway?

Ok, that was weak. But whatever.


Well hopefully the newer machines are MUCH faster than the 4 bay Drobo V2 I have.

This max’s out at around 29MB/s write and 40MB/s read on a Firewire 800 connection which should be capable of at least double both those numbers.

My Synology NAS manages 52MB/s write and read and its on a network!!!

Having a Thunderbolt interface would be more for convenience than higher throughput me thinks!!!

Unless you bung SSD’s in it of course!

Robster, if you get anything near 40 read and 29 write with real world bulk file ops, even very large files, with a V2 you should be quite happy. On Win XP and Win 7 USB I get 15MB/s real world and that’s on the better days. Win doesn’t deal well with FW, maybe somewhat similar to the way Macs don’t deal as well with USB from what I gather here and there.

A better upgrade for a V2 would be USB 3.0 because that is the only way Win users might reliably get the performance you are complaining about on FW800. We need it more than you do :-). Actually, FW800 is well beyond a V2’s capability although I’ve never understood why if that is so then why is USB 2.0 so poor, relative to what even USB 2.0 should be able to provide (more like mid 20’s at least, maybe 30 in ideal but likely not real world conditions).

Personally I would expect a Drobo S V3 with Thunderbolt since Apple has left Mac users mostly out in the cold with their lack of eSata support except when princely sums are extracted for the highest end Macs. A Drobo S would make sense.

USB 1 and 2 require way more “attention” for data transfer compared to 1394a/Firewire 400. That’s why FW400 provides better throughput compared to USB 2.0

It’s similar to SCSI vs IDE/PATA.

Not to mention most people have lots of other USB devices on the bus - keyboard, mouse, hub, webcam, etc.

I thought that extra attention was coming from the computer’s CPU, not the device?

I suspect it might be on both ends.

Well, Thunderbolt technology officially dropped today with the shipment of the Promise Pegasys R4 and R6 line of RAID storage systems. The initial blog about them from Anandtech shows them doing 688 MB/sec writing to a RAID 5…pretty sweet. Both of these devices are Thunderbolt only whereas Drobo has always supported multiple interfaces. That has an added cost however which will be interesting to see how DRI handles it.

If DRI redesigned the Drobo S for Thunderbolt, which interface would you give up to make room in the cabinet? Would you ditch Firewire since the Thunderbolt users are going to be Mac users (for now) anyway? How many people really use the eSATA interface? And I’m sure that USB 3.0 is there for the long haul. And finally, can a Drobo really saturate a Thunderbolt pipe with BeyondRAID?

One thing I’m curious about Thunderbolt is… can it be a boot device like USB and eSATA?

I would drop FW800 for a Thunderbolt connection.

And there has been confirmation that you can use them as boot devices.

Andatech has two models (the 4 bay and 6 bay) and has used them to boot 10.6.8

Thanks for the confirmation! :slight_smile:

A proper TB Drobo would need a much faster processor, Dual Core Atom or faster and lots of RAM, a Backup battery would be nice, too. Probably not sensible below eight bays.

DRI is using ARM architecture, not x86. At least that was the case with the earlier models. Why do you think backup battery has to do anything with that? There is one even in my V2… but is used to keep the data integrity (unfinished transactions) in case of power failure.

i am surprised at the number of companies that have adopted thunderbolt to be honest. They are limited to new mac sales, with is a very small market when you think about it.

I would doubt it is DR would adopt a new technology any time soon after just releasing there latest business versions of there drobos.

[quote=“bucket, post:16, topic:2598”]
i am surprised at the number of companies that have adopted thunderbolt to be honest.[/quote]

Customers like buzzwords, and marketing people love them. :slight_smile:

If USB or Firewire were actually a bottleneck with Drobos, Thunderbolt might be relevant. Right now, it’s just a cool new type of port that happens to be less common than USB or Firewire or eSATA.

Well, Sony has joined the game with this interesting product.

There’s about a zillion machines out there that have have FW800 and not Thunderbolt, and the Drobo doesn’t saturate FW800 (much less Thunderbolt).

Makes a lot more sense to have a FW800 interface than Thunderbolt.

It appears to me that Firewire has all but disappeared from the disk storage market. A year or two ago I could find dozens of devices. Now maybe a small handful made by a few vendors. In the meantime Thunderbolt is essentially vaporware and it remains to be seen if Apple is just re-running it’s mistake of trying to force it’s own interface into the market. It failed with Firewire and it will take 5 years or more for Thunderbolt to be implemented AND stand the test of time, which Firewire apparently failed.

I’m a Win user so I don’t care too much about this. I have my own problems :-). Regardless of any or all the other merits of Mac I would not use one simply because Apple doesn’t provide a viable interface at the moment (*) that fully saturates the throughput potential of available hard drives. In the meantime Mac users with USB2.0/FW800 interfaces are being painted into a smaller and smaller corner as FW800 devices continue to disappear from the market, forcing them to use the last millennium’s USB 2.0 technology.

Given the situation for Mac users I would think they would all be happy to see Firewire options left in Drobos for the foreseeable future since regardless of what happens to Thunderbolt there will be millions of machines representing billions of dollars of hard earned money spent searching for what few remaining FW 800 devices are still available.

    • I don’t consider FW800 a “viable interface” because, regardless of the technical merits, an interface is useless if there is little or nothing to plug into it. And the reasons for the lack of devices is a moot point from the perspective of the consumer.