LaCie builds some of the most exotic external storage solutions around, at least for desktop systems, and it's in fine form at CES this year. The company has introduced a couple of products that are jaw-dropping for entirely different reasons. The most excessive is easily the Sphère USB 3.0 drive, which was designed in cooperation with the folks at French silverware maker Christofle. Each one is built inside a 5.3" steel sphere that's hand crafted and silver plated in France by serious-looking men wearing frameless glasses. That's what the promo video depicts, anyway.
The mirror-like finish looks slick, but the 1TB mechanical drive sitting inside feels a little bit pedestrian. LaCie is charging a jaw-dropping $490 for the Sphère—almost enough for a terabyte SSD. The Sphère is definitely silverware first, storage second.
For folks who crave higher performance, LaCie has an updated version of its Little Big Disk designed for Thunderbolt 2. The second-gen interface consolidates Thunderbolt's dual channels in a single 20Gbps link, and the drive's internals have been upgraded to take advantage. Two 512GB SSDs arranged in a RAID 0 array provide a terabyte of storage. These drives have PCIe-based M.2 interfaces, and LaCie claims transfer rates can hit an impressive 1375MB/s with 4K video transfers.
A pair of Thunderbolt 2 ports allows the Little Big Disk to participate in a daisy chain with multiple devices, including a 4K display. The entire chassis acts as a heatsink, but a fan is still required to keep the internals cool. LaCie says that fan is temperature-controlled and "whisper quiet."
Video production professionals are the target market for the Little Big Disk. They'll have to be using OS X, because the drive doesn't support Windows. We haven't seen a lot of Windows machines with gen-one Thunderbolt ports, let alone the new generation, so the Mac requirement isn't a big surprise.
LaCie hasn't set a price for the Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt 2, but the drive will command a premium over the existing model. Expect the new version to be available before the end of the first quarter.