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With 12 hard drive bays, LaCie’s new storage unit crams up to 96TB in one box

LaCie introduced a new, 12-bay desktop RAID storage unit for professionals called the 12big Thunderbolt 3 during the National Association of Broadcasters Convention in Las Vegas this week. This storage tower can hold up to 12 hard drives and provide a maximum storage capacity of 96TB. The Thunderbolt 3 aspect means it provides quick file transfers to and from the unit, along with the ability to daisy-chain other Thunderbolt 3 devices, such as two 4K displays or a larger, single 5K display.

The new storage solution uses 7200RPM, enterprise-class hard drives provided by parent company Seagate, 256MB of cache, and a hardware-based RAID controller. It also comes packed with a redesigned LaCie RAID Manager interface for setting up and monitoring the device. This management tool provides wizards for creating and maintaining volumes, drive diagnostics, CPU settings, and more.

LaCie claims that the 12big is capable of speeds up to 2,600MB/s in RAID 0, and up to 2,400MB/s in RAID 5. Users wanting speed over security would choose RAID 5 (three-disk minimum), while security over speed is best on RAID 6 (four-disk minimum). It works fastest when using RAID 0 (two-disk minimum), although the device also supports RAID 1 and RAID 50.

The 12big reportedly has a smaller desktop footprint than the iPad Air, measuring at 59 square inches. The drives stored inside can be accessed from the front and feature LEDs that indicate the drive health, drive access, and RAID build status. The entire enclosure is constructed out of aluminum to help dissipate heat, and is backed by four “thermos-regulated” redundant fans mounted on the rear that pull heat away from the internal hardware.

In addition to the fans, the back of the unit also plays host to the two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a Kensington lock for attaching the storage unit to a fixture and thus preventing theft. There’s also what appears to be a single USB 3.1 port on the back that comes with a USB-C to USB-A cable. The package also includes the power cable, a USB-C cable for Thunderbolt (40Gb/s) or USB 3.1 (10GB/s) connectivity, and the hard drives.

“LaCie is committed to helping video professionals master ever-increasing data demands by ensuring their irreplaceable data is secure, available on demand, and always driving value,” said Tim Bucher, senior vice president of Seagate and LaCie Branded Solutions, “We purpose-built the LaCie 12big to have the speed, capacity, and reliability to efficiently download and edit even the most demanding content — so our customers can focus on making their creative vision a reality.”

Parent company Seagate acquired LaCie in August 2012. Since then, LaCie has become the company’s “premium” brand, offering a number of storage solutions for both the professional and the consumer. One such product is the Rugged RAID that connects via Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 and features hardware-based RAID 0 and RAID 1. It’s an on-the-go storage solution tucked away in a hard chassis so that it can be carried out into the field.

As for LaCie’s new 12-bay solution with Thunderbolt 3, the company says it will be made available this summer in huge 48TB, 72TB, and 96TB capacities. The company doesn’t provide any pricing at this time, but as a comparison, the LaCie 5big Thunderbolt 2 5-bay model with 30TB of storage costs a meaty $3,000, so expect to dish out the big bucks for the 12big Thunderbolt 3 solution later this year.

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