LaCie released its first Thunderbolt-equipped storage solution called Little Big Disk (LBD) last week, and some people have already received their units. A user ender21 over at MacRumors Forums has posted some early benchmarks and a small teardown of the 1TB version of LBD. The 1TB unit comes with two 500GB 7200rpm drives configured in RAID 0, so the SSDs are user-installed. LaCie also has plans for SSD based LBD but the availability is unknown at the moment.

Benchmarks

For this test, a 6.22GB QuickTime video file was used. The file was moved from OWC Extreme 6G 120GB to the LBD, and back, to test average transfer speeds. The SSD configuration was also tested with a RAM disk to eliminate possible bottlenecks caused by the internal SSD. 

Read Speed (128K block size)

Write Speed

What is surprising is that the SSDs in RAID 0 deliver so poor performance. We are looking at only 20-30MB/s increase (40-50MB/s with RAM disk) in performance over two 7200rpm HDs in RAID 0, while even a single Crucial M4 should deliver speeds of over 500MB/s with incompressible data, such as a video file like in this test. It's possible that the SATA controller in LBD is SATA 3Gb/s, since at least the hard drives are 3Gb/s variety (not that they could take advantage of SATA 6Gb/s anyway). Even that wouldn't explain the poor performance though, because Crucial m4 gets speeds of around 270MB/s when connected to SATA 3Gb/s, so we should be looking at figures around 500MB/s when running RAID 0 with two drives. Thunderbolt can't be the limiting factor due to its maximum transfer rate of 1.25GB/s. 

Hopefully we will find out what is causing the low transfer speeds when we get our review unit, or if there is simply an error in these figures. 

Teardown

The teardown doesn't reveal anything special. There are two 2.5" 7200rpm drives inside the chassis. This is a 1TB model with two 500GB hard drives, which turned out to be made by Hitachi, but it's possible that other brands are used as well. Upgrading the hard drives doesn't look too hard and there aren't many screws on the way either. 

The circuit board is shown in one of the pictures but there isn't anything surprising. The actual Thunderbolt chips seems to be covered by something, so we don't see its model number either. 

Thanks to Rick for providing us the benchmarks and pictures!

Source: MacRumors Forums

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  • KPOM - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I think you may have it mixed up. He is copying from an SSD to the TB drive (which has 2 HDs in RAID 0), and not to SSDs within the TB drive. The specs he is getting are in line with what LaCie reports on their website. Reply
  • KPOM - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    I checked back, and you are right that it is the SSD. That is pretty disappointing given the cost of the box. Could it be something with the controller? Certainly Thunderbolt ought to be capable of letting the SSDs operate at full speed. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    It could be the controller. Some SATA controllers are slower than others but it doesn't make much sense that a two-port controller would be limited to 250MB/s, considering that this isn't the cheapest device either. Other option would be a firmware limitation in case LaCie wants to prevent user upgrades to sell the the TBA SSD model at a premium.

    I hope these aren't the final results, would be fairly disappointing. Lets cross our fingers and wait for Anand's review ;-)
    Reply
  • name99 - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    How do these numbers compare with current USB3 SSDs?

    Yeah, yeah USB3 [sux compared to TB | is the greatest interface in the history of the universe]. I don't care about the theoretical rate of what advanced USB3 chips someday might deliver --- my question has to do with what do commonplace USB3 chips deliver TODAY --- to HDs and to SSDs.
    Reply
  • zsero - Monday, September 26, 2011 - link

    What a day, I open my laptop and there is a review on Anandtech comparing SSDs to HDDs based on sequential read and write speeds!
    >>>>

    What is surprising is that the SSDs in RAID 0 deliver so poor performance. We are looking at only 20-30MB/s increase (40-50MB/s with RAM disk) in performance over two 7200rpm HDs in RAID 0.

    >>>>>

    Just like a review from NewEgg. Wow. Anand spending years and years educating the population by inserting a separate page for each SSD review just for saying "the four corners of SSD performance are..." and now, here it is, comparing a RAID SSD based on sequential speeds.

    If nothing else, at least run a Light test 2011 and a couple of 4K benchmarks.
    Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    First of all, this is NOT a review. If you actually read the whole article, you should have noticed that all the tests were run by a forum member, we didn't have any way of affecting the tests he ran. Hence ALL we got is sequential reads and writes, and that's all we can analyze.

    That doesn't change the fact that the speeds are lower than you should expect. Besides, this is an external HD, so sequential speeds matter more than with internal HDs (more likely to be used as storage of media, not as boot drive).
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - link

    There's 10 micro-controllers on that PCB! Why on earth is there that much silicon in this thing? My quad interface drive only uses 3... I mean aside from a SATA controller, Thunderbolt controller, and a fan controller, what else does this thing need? It's only using software RAID for crying out loud. Too bad that pic is too blurry to read what any of them are.

    Also, just to guess, it looks like the drives may be hooked up to a single SATA port via a port multiplier system rather than to 2 dedicated SATA ports.
    Reply
  • jacktronics - Thursday, September 29, 2011 - link

    Hello everyone, i made the same type of tests on Lacie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt but with Sandforce SATA3 SSDs (Corsair Force GT 120GBytes). The results are far better !

    http://img189.imageshack.us/img189/2212/diskspeedt...
    http://img41.imageshack.us/img41/9081/dsc00918zu.j...

    The RAID configuration is 128Kbytes.

    Read : 480MBytes/s
    Write : 356MBytes/s

    The AHCI Controller of the disk is showing a 3Gbps negociated link and a maximum link of 6Gbps. It seems the controller is limiting the bandwidth for some reason ...
    Reply

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