French storage specialist LaCie offers the 2big Dual drive family, which is a very solid and heavy at 7.3 lbs (3.3 kg). The unit consists of two hard drives, and offers a combined total capacity of 1 TB, 1.5 TB or 2 TB using 500, 750 or 1000 GB hard drives. We received the 2 TB top model, which has a $839.99 price tag; the smaller versions cost $559.99 and $399.99 respectively. The 1.5 TB version offers the best value, at 37 cents per gigabyte.
LaCie’s product name suffix "dual" refers to the number of interfaces. In the case of the 2big Dual, customers can use either USB 2.0 or eSATA (300 MB/s). The 2big Triple comes with both types of Firewire (1394a and 1394b at 400 and 800 Mbit/s) and USB 2.0. LaCie doesn’t offer eSATA, though, which we believe is the best choice for a premium storage product, since users typically expect both data safety and performance. USB 2.0 bottlenecks all modern 2.5" or 3.5" based hard drive products, and Firewire 800 isn’t as popular as USB 2.0, so the only reasonable choice is eSATA and hence the 2big Dual.
Both hard drives are installed in hot-swap drive bays, so it is possible to replace or even exchange the hard drives yourself, if you want to deploy higher capacity models. LaCie even sells spare drives for the 2big series. However, their pricing is hardly attractive, at $199.99 for 500 GB, $279.99 for 750 GB and $429.99 for 1 TB models. The retail cost of individual hard drives is approximately half those amounts.
The 2 big drives support six operating modes. These include a simple JBOD setup, which offers both disk drives as individual drives, and the BIG mode that concatenates both units. There are also the Fast and Safe100 mode (RAID 0 and RAID 1 respectively), and even Safe33 and Safe50 hybrid modes, which utilize 33% and 50% of the total capacity for secure RAID 1 arrays, while the remaining storage space is operated in RAID 0, providing maximum performance. Safe 33% results in a 153 GB RAID 1 (306 GB used space) and a 626 GB RAID 0. These numbers are based on a total capacity of 932 GB, where 1 kB consists of 1024 bytes (drive manufacturers equate 1 kB to 1,000 bytes).
The operating mode is set via a small wheel on the back side of the device; LaCie provides a little plastic tool to make this adjustment (which you can also do with a screwdriver). The possible settings are self-explanatory, and confirmation of your setting is required for safety reasons. You will find a confirmation button right below the USB port, which you will have to push once you change the wheel setting. There are LEDs for each drive at the back of the device. Should one drive fail, its LED’s color will change from green to red.
LaCie utilizes Hitachi P7K500 hard drives, which were designed to be energy-efficient. A direct result of this is access times between 18.8 and 19.2 ms, depending on operating mode, where other 7,200 RPM hard drives typically reach 13 to 16 ms access time. However, the upside is a very acceptable idle power consumption of 16.4 W and a maximum power requirement of 22 W—this is 20 to 50% more power than the requirements of single-drive storage solutions. At the same time, SimpleTech’s Duo Pro requires 50% more power than the 2big Dual.
Throughput doesn’t suffer from the energy-efficient hard drives, as both LaCie and SimpleTech reach a 130 MB/s maximum read transfer rate. LaCie is faster with writes, though. Hitachi does not yet offer its P7 series at more than 500 GB, so we have to assume that the larger capacity versions will be based on regular drives and hence consume more energy.
The solid aluminum case acts as a heat spreader, but there is an additional fan, which switches on at approximately 38°C, when the drives are heavily utilized.
- Fast and Secure Desktop Storage
- LaCie 2big Dual 1 TB
- Operating Modes: JBOD, RAID 0, RAID 1, SAFE33, SAFE50
- Software EMC Retrospect Express HD
- SimpleTech Duo Pro Drive 2 TB
- ArcSoft TotalMedia Backup & Record
- Comparison Table
- Test Setup
- Benchmarks Results
- Benchmark Results Continued
- Power Consumption & Conclusion