Perfect Match: High-Speed SSD Drives + ThunderBolt Ports
Never before has a personal computer interface offered the insanely fast data transfer speeds of the original 10Gbps ThunderBolt and 2nd-generation 20Gbps ThunderBolt2 I/O ports. It's literally TWENTY times faster than the popular USB 2.0 spec, and more than double that of the competing 5Gbps USB 3.0 SuperSpeed standard. ThunderBolt outstrips the bandwidth requirements of nearly any personal computer gadget available today. Even conventional spinning platter hard drives can't fill a fraction of ThunderBolt's data pipeline. So a Solid-State flash memory disk drive is the most logical pairing of the two technologies. A ThunderBolt SSD external backup drive can really leverage the potential bandwidth available for the fastest data backups and file transfers you'll ever experience.
|Akitio ThunderBolt Drive||LaCie ThunderBolt Combo Drive||Oyen Digital ThunderBolt Drive|
|Akitio SSD Neutrino Drive
120GB ThunderBolt SSD
|Rugged SSD - Integrated TBolt Cable
Combo USB 3.0 + TBolt Interfaces
|Oyen SSD Mini Pro
256GB Solid-State Portable
Shipping TunderBolt External SSD Drives
Currently, a few of the best choices in solid-state backup are LaCie 512GB Thunderbolt SSD dual-drive array which also now offers a 1 Terabyte version for demanding, Pro users. These LaCie high-end models combine dual 256GB/512GB SATA III Solid-State drives for mirrored or striped RAID 0 performance that delivers mind-blowing transfer speeds - at a price. Their Little Big Disk SSD drives also have TWO TBolt ports on the back for daisy-chaining with other devices.
For more affordable consumer options, the single-drive LaCie Rugged USB 3.0 and ThunderBolt SSD has high-speed combo interfaces for both USB 3.0/2.0 or ThunderBolt connectivity. The ThunderBolt Rugged series uses a single SSD drive for respectable performance - and the added value of flexibility to use it with older and non-TBolt equipped USB port Macs or PCs. The latest revision of the solid-state Rugged portable drive now includes a short, integrated ThunderBolt cable for quick connectivity, and still allows optional connection to a USB port if needed.
The Elgato Thunderbolt SSD Drive has been shipping for quite some time. ElGato also uses a single SSD drive module for more modest but still very snappy performance in either 120GB or 240GB capacities - but it's pricing hasn't dropped to be truly competitive with LaCie or other new arrivals in the marketplace. A new 512GB SSD drive with combo ThunderBolt + USB 3.0 interface recently shipped, but the price is high.
Newcomers in 2014 include Akitio and Oyen Digital's external, portable SSD backup drive offerings - shown above. These laptop-size affordable consumer drives have a single ThunderBolt port for use directly connected to your computer - or at the END of the device chain.
One of the recent entrants into the external SSD drive market is Akitio. They've long been a maker of USB, eSata, and FireWire drive enclosures for assembling DIY backup drives. Introducing a single-port ThunderBolt portable SSD drive like the 120GB Neutrino shown here (currently using an Intel OEM SSD) is the first step in recouping their investment, a 256Gb is available as well (currently using a SanDisk OEM SSD). Akitio has announced they will soon offer a standalone ThunderBolt drive enclosure for homebuilt storage solutions using the SSD or HDD drive of your choice. Oyen Digital has a similar offering with 120GB/240GB portable SSD ThunderBolt drives priced around $199/$299 respectively.
DIY ThunderBolt SSD Adapter Sled
Backup Plus ThunderBolt Drive Adapters
For Laptop Size SSD or HDD
Seagate's ThunderBolt dock/sled let anyone cobble thier own affordable ThunderBolt SSD solution by simply plugging a bare 2.5" laptop SATA SSD drive directly into the portable adapter's SATA connector. It should be noted the ThunderBolt drive converter only has a SINGLE ThunderBolt port like many of the more affordable ThunderBolt storage products for home consumers. It's not capable of being Daisy-Chained with other TBolt devices. And of course, the cable is separate if you buy just the adapter and not one of Seagates drive + dock + cable bundles.
Best SSD For ThunderBolt?
Several factors determine which SSD is the best match for ThunderBolt drives. A Solid-State drive in general relies on several components that determine a SSD's performance: Whether it's a SATA I/II or or SATA III 6G drive interface chipset, and which controller chip: Marvell, Indilinx, SandForce, etc. are the brains of the operation. Other factors in the solid-state drive market involve how fast the onboard NAND Flash Memory is - and the Clock Speed controlling all of it. Look to Samsung, OCZ, Crucial and Sandisk for the fastest SSD's shipping this year. It's important to note that LARGER capacity SSD's 240GB and up offer BETTER performance than the smaller models: More banks of chips inside a higher-capacity SSD drive allow more simultaneous reads and writes across each bank of flash memory. As such you'll often see spec sheets quoting different maximum data transfer rates depending on the size of the drive. With solid-state storage, bigger is better - and faster.
ThunderBolt RAID SSD - Power Pair
Want to fill as much of ThunderBolt's pipe as possible? Think Striped RAID 0 SSD drive setups for peak performance. By striping Reads and Writes across multiple Solid-State drives, the highest level of drive transfer speeds become possible. Some may opt for premium top-performance SSD's, others may wish to leverage more economical drives paired to get the ThunderBolt drive capacity they need and still fit their budget.
DIY ThunderBolt SSD Backup Drives
Now that we have a range of of choices in external ThunderBolt case options, many do-it-yourself geeks will want to build thier own PC and Mac compatible SSD ThunderBolt drives to match thier budget and performance needs.
In an ideal world - Think leading-edge technology. 6Gbps SATA III is what most conventional spinning platter hard drives are now shipping with - and is backward compatible with SATA I and SATA II anyways. The current SSD market is using the SATA III interface in all new models like the Micron/Crucial M500 Drive . OCZ Technology's next-generation Sandforce-based Vertex 4 SSD offers great performance boasting potential Read AND Write speeds in the 550 MBps range. The new Intel 5XX Series SSD is it's a 4th Generation SATA 3 drive now using a Marvell chipset.