Thunderbolt SSDs satisfy the need for speed

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Thunder3 PCIe SSD from Akitio (left) and Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive from Sonnet Technologies (right)

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Though high capacity storage is an important consideration for broadcast professionals recording content to feed the UHD televisions now taking pride of place in our living rooms, just as important is how fast media can be moved around on location. And with 8K just around the corner, lightning fast is now the name of the game. Combining Thunderbolt 3 and the latest PCIe SSD technologies results in face-melting data throughput speeds – meet the new solid state drives from Sonnet and Akitio.

"The Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive can sustain the ultra-high file transfer speeds required for just about any 4K workflow – whether users need an ultra-fast shuttle drive or a take-anywhere scratch drive for editing high frame rate 4K video at offsite shoots," said Sonnet's CEO Robert Farnsworth.

The 512 GB storage unit is compatible with Windows 7 and 10 machines, and features the latest PCIe Gen 3 flash memory technology and a 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 3 interface on the end of an included 0.5 m (1.6) cable. A combination that Sonnet reports is capable of data transfer speeds of up to 2,100 MB/s, depending on the computer it's connected to.

At 2.8 in (70 mm) wide, 4.1 in (103.2 mm) deep and 1.25 in (31.5 mm) high, and encased in an aluminum enclosure, the bus-powered drive is also both pocket-friendly and built to withstand the inevitable bumps of life on location. The Fusion Thunderbolt 3 PCIe Flash Drive is available at the end of this month for a suggested retail price of US$799.

The Thunder3 PCIe SSD from Akitio has not so portable 9.17 x 5.96 x 2.99 in (233 x 152 x 76 mm) dimensions and will need to be powered via the included adapter. It does come with 1.2 TB of storage capacity, though, in the shape of a PCIe Gen 3 Intel 750 Series SSD with the NVMe communications protocol, packs two Thunderbolt 3 ports (as well as a DisplayPort video output for connection a 4K monitor) and is reported to offer data transfer speeds of a 2,500 MB/s.

The Akitio drive is housed in a rugged aluminum enclosure, comes with a 40 Gbps cable included and is compatible with Windows 7 or newer computers. Up to six units can be daisy-chained together for increased storage capacity.

The Thunder3 PCIe SSD unit will be available in early Q2 for $1,299.

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