Areca Preps High Capacity Thunderbolt 3 ARC-8052T3

Intel announced Thunderbolt 3 one year ago. We just started seeing final designs a few months back, at NAB in Las Vegas. LaCie announced a large 12-bay Thunderbolt 3 product while other companies focused on lower drive count, or flash-based products. We didn't expect to see another large system to compete with the LaCie 12big, but we were wrong. At Computex, Areca displayed a prototype of the new ARC-8052T3, another 12-bay high-performance product aimed at high bit-rate video production environments.

Areca's claim to fame started when enthusiasts and power users found the DRAM buffer algorithm to be superior to other available RAID controllers. Areca used the same Avago (formally LSI) and Marvell controllers but paired them with more DRAM that acts like a buffer for writing data to the array. Users could even upgrade many of the RAID controllers with more commodity ECC DRAM to increase the data buffer density. The end result was vastly superior performance compared to many other competing products.

The new ARC-8052T3 uses Areca's proprietary RAID buffer algorithms to support both SATA and SAS drives in a high-density 12-bay enclosure. The system isn't finalized yet, but the early prototype supports two Thunderbolt 3 ports via USB Type-C connectors. It also adds eSATA and 4-port SAS expansion ports, as well as an out-of-bandwidth management port via Ethernet.

Areca told us the final specifications may be different. We suspect the eSATA and SAS expansion ports may disappear on the final production units to reduce retail pricing. We don't have any pricing information yet but hope to learn more in the coming months when Areca finalizes the design and feature list.

The system will replace Areca's ARC-8050T2 8-bay Thunderbolt 2 system that is currently shipping for $1,699 (pricing from B&H, New York). RAID level support for 0, 1, 1E, 3, 5, 6, 10, 30, 50, 60 and JBOD will carry over to the updated Thunderbolt 3 12-bay model. Users can build more than one array with the system to divide the disks into separate LUNs. Management comes from both CLI and GUI interfaces, both from Areca. The software supports both in- and out-of-bandwidth management.

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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