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LaCie announces gargantuan 96TB external hard drive

You can buy single hard drives that are 10TB in size these days, but for most people that’s overkill. Even consumers who take plenty of photos and videos only need a few terabytes of local storage right now. But LaCie is going after professionals with its new external drive. The 12big Thunderbolt 3 offers up to 96TB of storage for the discriminating video editor. Maybe one day we’ll all need dozens of terabytes, but for now the 12big is being pushed as a solution for storing hour upon hour of 4K video in a single rig.

As the name implies, the 12big includes 12 7,200 RPM hard drives. It has a hardware RAID controller that can handle RAID 5 and 6. The amount of usable formatted space will depend on the RAID configuration chosen. With RAID 5 any one of the array’s drives can fail without damaging the data. RAID 6 adds additional redundancy that can handle two failed (or missing) drives without losing data. With the largest 96TB variant in RAID 5, LaCie estimates editors will be able to store about 100 hours of 4K video in ProRes 444 XQ format.

To keep an eye on the health of all those drives, the 12big has LEDs on the hot-swappable drive bays. The 12big is designed to operate continuously and includes four temperature-controlled fans to keep the internal drives cool. LaCie says one of the fans could even fail without causing damage to the system.

12big

The name also tells you about the connectivity situation — the 12big Thunderbolt 3 is based on the Thunderbolt 3 standard and offers read speeds up to 2,600MB/s and writes of 1,700MB/s, though that’s only in RAID 0. With the much safer RAID 5 or 6, you’ll see roughly 2,400/1,200 MB/s. That’s still enough to have multiple 4K video streams running at once. With Thunderbolt 3, you can also daisy chain up to two 4K displays with the 12big, or even deliver power to a laptop.

Thunderbolt 3 is part of the USB Type-C spec, and there are a few devices out there that already support that standard over Type-C ports. LaCie includes both Thunderbolt and Type-C cables with the hard drive, but it can be connected to regular USB 3.1 devices as well. You just won’t get the insane data rates. Thunderbolt is really only common in video editing, so it makes sense to focus on that standard for this product.

LaCie has not announced a price for the 12big Thunderbolt 3, but you can expect it to be high. It will come in 48TB, 72TB, and 96TB capacities when it launches this summer.

Now read USB-C vs. USB 3.1: What’s the difference?

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