Tag Archives: Promise Technology

Doing more with Thunderbolt 3

Streamlined speed on set or in the studio

By Beth Marchant

It was only six years ago that Thunderbolt, the high-speed data transfer and display port standard co-developed by Apple and Intel, first appeared in Apple’s MacBook Pros and iMacs. Since then, the blended PCI Express, DisplayPort and power plug cable has jolted its way toward ubiquity, giving computers and peripherals increased speed and functionality with every iteration.

Content creators were the first to discover its potential, and gamers quickly followed. Intel, which now owns the sole rights to the spec, announced in late May it would put Thunderbolt 3 into all of its future CPUs and release the spec to the industry in 2018. In a related blog post, Intel VP Chris Walker called Thunderbolt 3 “one of the most significant cable I/O updates since the advent of USB.” The company envisions not just a faster port, but “a simpler and more versatile port, available for everyone, coming to approximately 150 different PCs, Macs and peripherals by the end of this year,” said Walker.

So what can it do for you on set or in the studio? First, some thumbnail facts about what it does: with double the video bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2 and eight times faster than USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 3 clocks 40Gbps transfer speeds, twice as fast as the previous version. T3 also includes USB-C connectivity, which finally makes it usable with Windows-based workstations as well as with Macs. On top of those gains, a T3 port now lets you daisy-chain up to six devices and two 4K monitors — or one 5K monitor — to a laptop through a single connection. According to Intel’s Walker, “We envision a future where high-performance single-cable docks, stunning photos and 4K video, lifelike VR, and faster-than-ever storage are commonplace.” That’s an important piece of the puzzle for filmmakers who want their VR projects and 4K+ content to reach the widest possible audience.

The specification for Thunderbolt 3, first released in 2015, gave rise to a smattering of products in 2016, most importantly the MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 3. At NAB this year, many more flexible RAID storage and improved T3 devices that connect directly to Mac and Windows computers joined their ranks. In June, Apple released iMacs with TB3.

For directors Jason and Josh Diamond, a.k.a. The Diamond Brothers, upgrading to new TB3-enabled laptops is their first priority. “When we look at the data we’re pushing around, be it 24 cameras from a VR shoot, or many TBs of 8K R3Ds from a Red Helium multicam shoot, one of the most important things in the end is data transfer speed. As we move into new computers, drives and peripherals, USB-C and TB3 finally have ubiquity across our Mac and PC systems that we either own or are looking to upgrade to. This makes for much easier integrations and less headaches as we design workflows and pathways for our projects,” says Jason Diamond, The Diamond Bros./Supersphere.

If you are also ready to upgrade, here are a sampling of recently released products that can add Thunderbolt 3 performance to your workflow.

CalDigit docking station

Clean Up the Clutter
CalDigit was one of the first to adopt the Thunderbolt interface when it came out in 2011, so it’s no surprise that the first shipment of the CalDigit Thunderbolt Station 3 (TS3) docking station introduced at NAB 2017 sold out quickly. The preorders taken at the show are expected to ship soon. TS3 is designed to be a streamlined, central charging hub for MacBook Pro, delivering 85W of laptop charging via USB 3.1 Type-A (plus audio in and out), along with two Thunderbolt ports, two eSATA ports, two USB 3.1 Type A ports, Gigabit Ethernet and a DisplayPort. DisplayPort lets users connect to a range of monitors with a DisplayPort to HDMI, DVI or VGA cable.

CalDigit also introduced the TS3 Lite, shipping now, which will work with any Thunderbolt 3 computer from PCs to iMacs or MacBook Pros and features two Thunderbolt 3 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, audio in and out, an AC power adapter and DisplayPort. It includes two USB 3.1 Type-A ports — one on the back and one on its face — that let you charge your iPhone even when the dock isn’t connected to your computer.

The Need for Speed
Like the other new T3 products on the market, LaCie‘s 6big and 12big Thunderbolt 3 RAID arrays feature both Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 interfaces for Mac- or Windows-based connections.

LaCie 12Big

But as their names imply, the relatively compact “big” line ramps up to 120TB in the 12big desktop tower. The hardware RAID controller and 7200RPM drives inside the12big will give you speeds of up to 2600MB/s, and even 2400MB/s in RAID 5. This will significantly ramp up how quickly you ingest footage or move through an edit or grade in the course of your day (or late night!). Thanks to Thunderbolt 3, multiple streams of ProRes 422 (HQ), ProRes 4444 XQ and uncompressed HD 10-bit and 12-bit video are now much easier to handle at once. Preview render rates also get a welcome boost.

The new Pegasus3 R4, R6 and R8 RAIDs from Promise debuted at Apple’s WWDC 2017 in early June and were designed to integrate seamlessly with Apple’s latest Thunderbolt 3-enabled offerings, which will include the upcoming iMac Pro coming in December. They will deliver 16TB to 80TB of desktop storage and can also sync with the company’s Apollo Cloud personal storage device, which lets you share small clips or low-res review files with a group via mobile devices while in transit. When used with Promise’s SANLink Series, the new Pegasus3 models can also be shared over a LAN.

Lighten the Load on Set
If you regularly work with large media files on set, more than one G-Technology G-Drive ev series drives are likely on your cart. The latest version of the series so popular with DITs has a Thunderbolt 3-enabled drive for improved transfer speeds and an HDMI input so you can daisy-chain the drive and a monitor through a single connection on a laptop. Users of G-Tech ev series drives who need even more robust Thunderbolt 3 RAID on location — say to support multistream 8K and VR — now have another option: the 8-bay G|Speed Shuttle XL with ev Series Bay Adapters that G-Tech introduced at NAB. Shipping this month, it comes in RAID-0, -1, -5, -6 and -10 configurations, includes two T3 ports and ranges in price from $3,999.95 (24TB) to $6,599.95 (60TB).

Sonnet Cfast 2.0 Pro card reader

Transfer Faster on Location
One of the first card readers with a Thunderbolt interface is the SF3 Series — Cfast 2.0 Pro launched in May by Sonnet Technologies. Dual card slots let the reader ingest files simultaneously from Canon, Arri and Blackmagic cameras at concurrent data transfer speeds up to 1,000 MB/s, twice as fast as you can from a USB 3.0 reader. The lightweight, extruded aluminum shell is made to handle as much abuse as you can throw at it.

Stereoscopic-Ready
The Thunderbolt 3 version of Blackmagic’s UltraStudio 4K Extreme resolved two critical obstacles when it began shipping last year: it was finally fast enough to support RGB and stereoscopic footage while working in 4K and it could

Blackmagic UltraStudio 4K Extreme

be connected directly to color correction systems like DaVinci Resolve via its new Thunderbolt 3 port. The 40 Gbps transfer speeds are “fast enough for the most extreme, high bit-depth uncompressed RGB 4K and stereoscopic formats,” says Blackmagic’s Grant Petty.

Blackmagic introduced the UltraStudio HD Mini with Thunderbolt 3 at NAB this year. It adds 3G-SDI and HDMI along with analog connections for 10-bit recording up to 1080p60 and 2K DCI, likely making it the first of its kind. It’s aimed at the live broadcast graphics editing and archiving.

Connect Back to PCI-E and Be Eco-Friendly
OWC makes little black boxes that do two very important things: retrieve your PCI-Express card options, while also helping the planet. The zero emissions Mac and PC technology company began shipping the updated OWC Mercury Helios with Thunderbolt 3 expansion chassis in May. The box includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a PCI-E post, and a Mini DisplayPort, which lets you connect to high-bandwidth NIC cards, HBAs and RAID controllers and add video capture and processing cards and audio production PCIe cards. An energy saver mode also powers it on and off with your computer.

Promise, Symply team up on Thunderbolt 3 RAID system

Storage solutions companies Promise Technology and Symply have launched Pegasus3 Symply Edition, the next generation of the Pegasus desktop RAID storage system. The new system combines 40Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 speed with Symply’s storage management suite.

According to both companies, Pegasus3 Symply Edition complements the new MacBook Pro — it’s optimized for performance and content protection. The Pegasus3 Symply Edition offers the speed needed for creative pro generating high-resolution video and rich media content, and also the safety and security of full-featured RAID protection.

The intuitive Symply software suite allows for easy setup, optimization and management. The dual Thunderbolt 3 ports provide fast connectivity and the ability to connect up to six daisy-chained devices on a single Thunderbolt 3 port while adding new management tools and support from Symply.

“As the Symply solution family grows, Pegasus3 Symply Edition will continue to be an important part in the larger, shared creative workflows built around Promise and Symply solutions,” said Alex Grossman, president and CEO, Symply.

The Pegasus3 Symply Edition is available in three models — Pegasus R4, Pegasus R6 and Pegasus R8 — delivering four-, six- and eight-drive configurations of RAID storage, respectively. Each system is ready to go “out of the box” for Mac users with a 1m 40Gb/s Active Thunderbolt 3 cable for easy, high-speed connectivity.

Every Pegasus3 Symply Edition will include Symply’s Always-Up-to-Date Mac OS management app. iOS and Apple Watch apps to monitor your Pegasus3 Symply Edition system remotely are coming soon. The Symply Management suite will support most earlier Pegasus systems. The Pegasus3 Symply Edition includes a full three-year warranty, tech support and 24/7 media and creative user support worldwide.

The Pegasus3 Symply Edition lineup will be available on the Apple online store, at select Apple retail stores and at resellers.

Review: Promise Technology’s Pegasus2 R2+ RAID

By Brady Betzel

Every day I see dozens of different hard drives — from some serious RAIDs, like the Avid Nexis (formerly Isis), all the way down to the single-SSD via Thunderbolt. My favorite drives seem to be the ones that connect easily, don’t have huge power supply bricks and offer RAID options, such as RAID-0/RAID-1. If you’ve been to an Apple Store lately then you’ve probably ran into the Promise Technology Pegasus2 R2+ line of products. Also, the Pegasus2 R2+ is featured under the storage tab on www.apple.com. I bring that up because if you are on that page you are a serious contender.

The Pegasus line of products from Promise is often thought of as high-end and high-quality. I’ve never heard anyone say anything bad about Pegasus. From their eight-bay R8 systems all the way down to the R2, there are options to satisfy any hardware-based RAID need you have from 0 to 1, 5 or 6. Lucky for me, I was sent the R2+ RAID to review. I was immediately happy that it was a hardware-controlled RAID as opposed to a software-controlled RAID.

Pegasus2 R2+

Software RAIDs run 100 percent on an external system to control the data structure, but I like my RAID to control itself. The Pegasus2 R2+ is a two-drive hot swappable RAID loaded with two 7200RPM, 3TB Toshiba hard drives. In addition, there is a third bay — the Media Bay — on the top that can be loaded with different pods. You can choose from an SSD reader, a CF/SD card reader or even an additional 1TB hard drive, but it ships with the CF/SD card reader. Keep in mind these pods will only work when connected via Thunderbolt 2 — under USB 3.0 they will not work. Something cool: when you pop out the interchangeable pods they can connect via USB 3.0 separate from the RAID case.

In terms of looks, the Pegasus2 R2+ has a nice black finish, which will go well with any recent Mac Pros you might have lying around. It has a medium-to-small footprint — picture two medium-sized books stacked on top of each other (5.3 x 7.3 x 9.8 inches). It weighs about 13.5 pounds and while I did stuff it in my backpack and carry it around, you know it’s in there. The power cord is nice. I detest the power bricks that typically accompany RAID drives, laptops and anything that sucks a good amount of power. To my delight, Promise has incorporated the actual power supply inside of the RAID, leaving a simple power cable to attach. Thank You! Other than that you have either a USB 3.0 cable or a Thunderbolt 2 cable included in the box.

Running Tests
Out of the box, I plugged in the RAID and it spun up to life. For this review, I found a Mac Pro running a 2.7GHz 12-core Xeon E5, with 64GB of DDR3, and an AMD FirePro D700 graphics card, so there should very little bogging down the transfer pipes when running my tests. I decided to use the AJA System Test for disk-speed testing. I started with the drive in RAID-0 (optimized for speed, both drives are together, no safety) because that is how it is shipped.

DiskSpeedTest Thunderbolt copy

Over Thunderbolt 2, I got around 390MB/sec read and 370 MB/sec write speeds. Over USB, 3.0 still configured in RAID-0, it at about 386MB/sec read/write. When I turned the RAID over to RAID-1 (made for safety, so if one drive is damaged you will most likely be able to have your data rebuilt when you replace the damaged drive), I definitely saw the expected slow down. Over Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0, I was getting around 180MB/sec write and 196MB/sec read. Don’t forget, the 6TB drive that ran in RAID-0 is now 3TB when configured in RAID-1.

On the front of the R2+ you have two lights that let you know the drive is plugged in via Thunderbolt 2 or USB 3.0. This actually came in handy, as I was looking to see how I plugged the drive in. Cool!

One thing I was very happy with was how simple the Promise Technology RAID configuration tool was to use. Not only will it give you stats on the drive, like temperature of the drives, health of the drives and even fan speed, it lets you format and designate RAID configurations. This alone would make me think of Promise first when deciding on a RAID to buy. I really liked how simple and easy to use the RAID configuration software was to use.

As a final test I left my Pegasus2 R2+ configured in RAID-0 and pulled a drive out while transferring media to the RAID. The status light on the front changed from a bright blue to an amber color and began to blink. Inside of the Pegasus2 RAID configuration tool an amber exclamation point appeared next to the RAID status as expected. I left the drive alone so it could rebuild itself. Two hours later it was still running, so I left it alone overnight. I didn’t accurately time the rebuild, but by the time I came home the next night it was complete. I only had a few hundred gigabytes worth of data on it, but in the end it came back to life. Hooray!

General Thoughts
In the end, I really love the sleek black exterior, lack of a huge power brick and the RAID configuration software. The additional Media Pods are a cool idea too. I like having a Thunderbolt 2 CF/SD card reader (or better yet an SSD reader — think Red Mag) always ready to go, especially on the Mac Pro shaped like a black cylinder with no card readers built in.

I would really love to have seen what this could do when loaded with SSD drives, but since this review is about what comes with the Pegasus2 R2+, that’s what I’ve done.

Promise Technology has been around a long time and has been known to me to offer very reliable storage solutions. Keep in mind that the R2+ is shipped with the CF/SD card reader, but the other pods can be purchased separately. I couldn’t find anyone selling them online though. When I was writing this review, I saw the retail price of the Pegasus2 R2+ range from $749 to a little over $800. You get a two-year limited warranty, which covers all parts except for the fan and power supply. They are only covered for one year (kind of a bummer). When returning the product for warranty work, you can opt to be sent a loaner, but a credit card is required in case you don’t return it. In this instance, you will be charged retail price of the loaner). You can also opt to send yours in and wait for it to be replaced. Take note that you need a copy of the original receipt and boxes for return.

Summing Up
I really love the stability and elegance of the Pegasus line of RAID systems, and the Pegasus2 R2+ lives up to the beauty and name. If you are a small company or one-person band transferring, transcoding and editing media without the need for SSD speed or Thunderbolt 3 connection, this is the sleek RAID for you.

Brady Betzel is an online editor at Margarita Mix in Hollywood, working on Life Below Zero and Cutthroat Kitchen. You can email Brady at bradybetzel@gmail.com, and follow him on Twitter @allbetzroff. Brady was recently nominated for an Emmy for his work on Disney’s Unforgettable Christmas Celebration.

Promise offering new Thunderbolt 2 storage, connection devices

Promise Technology’s Pegasus2 R2+ and SANLink2 16G FC are both now available through the company’s network of distributors and value-added resellers.

Pegasus2 R2+ is a Thunderbolt 2 hardware RAID-0 and RAID-1 storage solution with USB 3.0 that includes two hot-swappable hard disk drives, a media bay, and CF/SD reader pod. An optional SSD reader pod and HDD pod are available for convenient data exchange. Each pod comes with USB 3.0 Micro-B for independent access, allowing users to take a pod and work off site.

Pegasus2 R2+’s (pictured) price point makes it ideal for creative professionals looking for entry-level storage that offers Thunderbolt 2 speeds and unmatched versatility. Among the product’s highlights are the ability to connect to non-Thunderbolt systems via USB 3.0 and dual -Thunderbolt ports to daisy chain up to six devices.

SANLink2 16G FC is a compact device that boosts a user’s portable and desktop Thunderbolt interfaces to 16G speeds by connecting them seamlessly to the Fibre Channel SAN, doubling the speed of the previous generation 8Gb FC. SANLink2 16G FC comes standard with dual Thunderbolt 2 ports and dual 16Gb FC ports ideal for creative professionals who deal with large data transfers on a daily basis. SANLink2 16G FC supports OS X and the entire Promise VTrak series family of products.

‘Creative Storage’ panel to address challenges, opportunities in post

The upcoming 2015 Creative Storage Conference will feature a session on digital storage in professional post production called “Putting it Together: Storage Challenges and Opportunities in Post Production.”

The session will examine the challenges facing post, such as the demand for networked and online storage and archiving working content, as well as semiconductor storage to speed performance. In addition, it will cover the fact that post production requires streaming video quality and latencies that are very different from traditional enterprise storage.

Larry Jordan (pictured) of Digital Production Buzz will moderate the session, which will include reports from end users and storage developers. The panel comprises Paul Speciale of Scality, Brian Campanotti of Oracle, Victor Pacheco of Promise Technology and Bernard Lamborelle of Tiger Technology.

The one-day Creative Storage Conference takes place Tuesday, June 30 at the DoubleTree Hotel in Culver City, California. The conference agenda and registration are available online at www.creativestorage.org. Registration closes June 26.