updated 09:15 pm EDT, Fri July 15, 2011
Promise drive still available; no reason for delay
(Update: response) LaCie has quietly pushed back the arrival date of its anticipated Thunderbolt-enabled Little Big Disk to late fall/early winter of this year with no explanation. It had originally been planned for this summer. Originally announced in late February shortly after the announcement of Thunderbolt and Apple support, the drive was demoed in April at the NAB show and again in June for tech site Slashgear.
Other Thunderbolt-equipped peripheral manufacturers, such as Promise, BlackMagic Design and Matrox, have pushed ahead with their products, which are available now -- but aimed squarely at the pro video segment, where Thunderbolt will do well. The loss of the LaCie Little Big Disk until later this year is seen as a blow to the swift consumer adoption of Thunderbolt, as it was one of the few announced peripherals that was aimed at and priced for the general public. The drive was said to be retailing for $299 with two 1TB hard drives inside the enclosure, with higher prices for SSD-equipped models.
Thunderbolt surpasses its connection rivals -- even high-end and expensive professional cabling such as Fibre Channel -- by offering two independent, low-overhead bidirectional channels of 10 gigabit-per-second traffic, far more than most current uses call for, at very low costs. Demonstrations routinely showed off the power of the bandwidth of Thunderbolt by passing multiple uncompressed 1080p video streams between Macs and Thunderbolt-connected peripherals in which each could be copied, played, scrubbed and otherwise manipulated with no detriment to the other streams, even at extremely high copy rates.
In the Slashgear demos (video below, Flash required), the LaCie drives achieved read speeds of 825MB per second, and write speeds of more than 350MB per second (using SSD drives inside the enclosure).
Update: LaCie has since responded and said the claims of a Little Big Disk delay were due to confusion over Australia, where winter takes place mid-year. It should still ship in summer.