LaCie unveils Thunderbolt-compatible Little Big Disk

External hard drive with support for Intel's new technology will launch this summer

By Ben Camm-Jones, Macworld U.K. |  Storage, Apple, hard drive

LaCie has announced a new version of the LaCie Little Big Disk external hard drive that features support for Intel's new Thunderbolt technology.

[ See also: What you need to know about Thunderbolt ]

Initially, Apple's new MacBook Pro range is the first set of devices to support Thunderbolt and other PC vendors may not use Thunderbolt technology in their new models until next year.

However, external hard drive makers such as LaCie and Western Digital have got Thunderbolt-compatible products in the pipeline and La Cie has today unveiled more details of its device.

"Thunderbolt technology is a breakthrough in I/O technology and represents the future of mobile computing. Soon you will be able to carry workstation-class power and functionality in compact devices," said Philippe Spruch, Chairman and General Manager, LaCie. "LaCie is excited to be one of the first to deliver Thunderbolt technology with the LaCie Little Big Disk."

"Intel believes Thunderbolt technology in combination with LaCie's unique portfolio of storage products and displays will drive new levels of performance and simplicity for consumers," said Jason Ziller, Director, Thunderbolt Planning and Marketing, Intel Corporation.

The Thunderbolt-compatible version of the Little Big Disk won't launch until the summer, though, and pricing was not immediately available.

Under the code name Light Peak, Intel's Thunderbolt technology was first introduced in 2009 and has a theoretical maximum data transfer rate of 10Gbps.

This compares to USB 3.0's 4Gbps, the 800Mbps offered by Firewire 800 and USB 2.0's 480Mbps. However, Intel has stated that it does not intend Thunderbolt to be a replacement to USB 3.0 - which is struggling to gain a foothold in the market - but a complimentary technology. Initially, it is aimed at audio and video professionals and enthusiasts.

Using adaptors, Thunderbolt is compatible with most other connectivity protocols but is based on PCI Express technology, which most Macs use for I/O. Thunderbolt currently communicates with devices using PCI Express for data transfers and DisplayPort for displays, Intel said. All devices can connect to a PC using a single hub, reducing the need to have multiple connectors.

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