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By: Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates, www.tomcoughlin.com

Much of the video content available to the world is made and edited by small studios. These facilities generally have 1-10 professionals working on video projects. They may do complete video capture and production or be contracted to do piece work by larger organizations. These video professionals have needs that are similar to, as well as different from, larger production companies1. For instance, they may use cloud-based resources for non-local collaborative work or sharing proxies while they use network storage for local collaborative work. However, there is one characteristic that makes many of these smaller facilities unique, and that is their widespread use of small(er) Direct Attached Storage (DAS) devices.

This piece will look at new digital storage tools from the 2019 NAB show that focus on the needs of smaller video production facilities. These often utilize direct attached storage Thunderbolt or USB-C storage interfaces but may also include smaller Network Attached Storage (NAS) for file-based local data access. They seldom use Fibre Channel or Ethernet-based Storage Area Networks (SANs). For these production facilities, archiving video content may be left to their clients, or it may consist of storing the same drives used for video production. Archiving may also be storage to a local NAS or with content uploaded to a cloud-based storage vendor.

Western Digital

Western Digital is the parent company for G-Technology and HGST hard disk drives. These products have a long history of use for media and entertainment and they have a significant line of products for smaller production facilities that they were showing at the 2019 NAB show.

G-Technology was showcasing its new ArmorATD all-terrain, rugged hard drive, purpose-built for durability and reliability. ArmorATD provides a high-capacity (up to 4 TB for $169.95), portable hard drive meant to take the punishing conditions photographers and filmmakers go through to capture the perfect shot. The drive offers a 3-year limited warranty and is available from B&H Photo, g-technology.com and Fry’s (in May). A photograph of the ArmoreATD is shown below.

 

G-Technology's portfolio offers a range of external SSDs and HDDs, including one of the world’s fastest portable SSD (G-DRIVE mobile Pro SSD) and extremely rugged, fast SSD (G-DRIVE mobile SSD)

Also at NAB, G-Technology showcased increased capacities for multiple devices: including its 32TB G-SPEED® Shuttle SSD with Thunderbolt 3, 2TB G-DRIVE mobile Pro SSD, 14TB G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt 3, 28TB G-RAID with Thunderbolt 3, 56TB G-SPEED Shuttle with Thunderbolt 3, and its 112TB G-SPEED Shuttle XL with Thunderbolt 3, to help better serve the mobile and desktop storage demands of industry professionals.

OWC

OWC has long focused on DAS digital storage products for the professional media industry. At the 2019 NAB Show, they announced their award-winning Thunderblade Gen 2 SSD as well as an expandable shared storage solution.

According to the company, “The new ThunderBlade Gen 2 SSD is the fastest external drive OWC has ever made, capable of completing a 1TB content transfer in under four-and-a-half minutes. It offers high-performance and fanless external Thunderbolt storage for media professionals who need fast, reliable storage for managing massive workflows. Designed to be rugged and dependable as well as blazing fast, ThunderBlade is equally at home on the road, on set, or in the edit suite. With two Thunderbolt 3 ports, ThunderBlade fits daisy-chain workflows perfectly, and it delivers the performance to match — capable of unbelievable transfer speeds of up to 2800MB/s. And with SoftRAID, two ThunderBlades can reach dizzying heights up to 3800MB/s.”

The product is available in capacities up to 8 TB for $799.00. The image below shows the OWC ThunderBlade Gen 2 SSD

The OWC Jupiter mini 5-Bay is their latest enterprise-class storage. The Jupiter mini is highly configurable and scalable. It features a 10Gbps Ethernet interface. The Jupiter mini 5-Bay is available in 20TB or 70TB configurations, starting in Q2 2019, and sports both a PCIe expansion slot and an M.2 slot for adding additional networking, SSD or HDD storage, or even performance caching.

Seagate Technology

Seagate Technology expanded its popular LaCie product line by unveiling their LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle and LaCie 2big RAID data storage solutions at the 2019 NAB show. The LaCie Rugged RAID Shuttle, designed by product designer, Neil Poulton, is the next iteration of the brand’s popular Rugged lineup. According to Seagate, “For 14 years, the Rugged drives have served creative professionals across the globe with reliable and secure storage solutions that offer industry-leading drop, shock, water, and dust resistance.”

Designed with its orange rubber shell, the Rugged RAID Shuttle has 8TB of storage capacity in a flat design that can easily fit in a backpack or shipping envelope, making it a useful shuttle drive for creative pros. It offers up to 250 MB/s in RAID 0 for performance, and RAID 1 for data redundancy, easily configured through the LaCie Toolkit. The drive also features Seagate Secure Hardware Encryption with password protection helping to keep your sensitive data protected from unauthorized access or intellectual property theft. The product offers USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gb/s) with a USB-C connector compatible with Thunderbolt 3 and backward compatible with USB 3.0. The

product has a 3-year limited warranty and a 1-month subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud All-Apps plan. The 8TB product is available in May for an MSRP of $529.99. The LaCie 2big RAID offers up to 16TB of capacity for desktop storage featuring Seagate’s IronWolf® Pro enterprise-class drives. Users can transfer footage quickly and efficiently with speeds of up to 440 MB/s and rely on the device’s USB-C connection for universal compatibility including Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s), and legacy USB 3.0. 

Also designed by Neil Poulton, the LaCie 2big RAID features a handsome space gray aluminum enclosure designed to reduce noise and vibration. It is pre-formatted exFAT and takes the mystery out of setting up RAID modes through the included LaCie Toolkit with RAID configuration. With a standard 5-Year Limited Warranty with Rescue Data Recovery Services and complimentary 1-month Adobe Creative Cloud All-Apps plan, LaCie 2big RAID is available this month with MSRPs of $419 (4TB), $529 (8TB), and $739 (16TB).

Promise Technology

Promise Technology was showing its Pegasus32 series products as well as its VTrack enterprise storage systems. The Pegasus3 was extended with the Pegasus32 to support Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 (with hardware RAID storage focused on media professionals. With a Thunderbolt 3 host, the system supports 40Gbps. It includes a 4-lane DisplayPort 1.4 port for 8K monitor support and the Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.2 Gen 2 port supports up to 85W of power delivery and has capacity up to 112 TB of raw capacity. The Pegasus32 product line family is shown below.

The Promise VTrak D5000 is optimized for 10Gb Ethernet via SMB/NFS protocols for large file data ingesting, streaming, or processing between the VTrak D5000 NAS storage appliance and its clients. Data can also be directly transferred between the VTrak D5000 appliance and clients over the SAN via iSCSI/Fibre Channel network. This means higher bandwidth performance and lower latency data transfers. In addition, the VTrak D5000 supports Open Directory and Active Directory making it easier to integrate into an existing networking environment.

Symply

Symply, now part of Global Distribution was showing its high-speed multi-user StorNext 6 powered Thunderbolt 3 Storage Solution.

Sony

Sony’s introduced some new external SSDs (SL-C and SL-M). The SL-M series and SL-C series both feature a one-piece aluminum body with an omnidirectional shockproof construction that according to Sony, “provides the user with a sense of security when it comes to storing data.” The two products are shown below.

With an IP67 rating, both series are dustproof and waterproof and feature a USB Type-C port that is waterproof even without a sealing cap. Data is also protected even if dropped in up to 3 feet of water. The external SSD drives are claimed to be highly durable and can withstand pressure of up to 6000kg. Additionally, the SL-M series and SL-C series are impact proof, withstanding drops from up to 9 feet.

The SL-M series has read and write speed of up to 1000MB/s, while the standard compact SL-C series has up to 540MB/s read speed and 520MB/s write speed. Both series also feature a USB 3.1 Gen 2 (USB Type-C) interface. Both models with be available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB storage capacities by the Summer of 2019.

Other Companies

The Acromove ServerPack EDGE combines compute, storage, and networking in a unique Hyper-Converged Appliance; literally a data center in a box. The system includes battery modules allowing several hours of use. This is a field storage and processing device that can be used in demanding conditions.

Angelbird external SSD products were on display at the B&H booth at the 2019 NAB. As shown below the SSD2GO PKT offers read performance up to 560 MB/s, while the SSD2GO PKT XT has read performance up to 1 GB/s. Both products offer USB 3.1 Type-C interfaces.

Angelbird was also showing their AtomX SSDs (developed by ATMOS), designed for ATMOS Ninja and Shogun video recorder and monitor.

Lexar had several SSD storage products for display at the 2019 NAB show including NVMe M.2 SSDs and several USB readers and a USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt2 reader hub, shown below. The hub allows transferring images and videos from multiple memory cards at once.

External Storage boxes (both DAS and NAS) were available from companies such as Asustor, CineRAID, Magstor, QNAP, Rocstor and Stardom. 

The 2019 NAB show featured many products to support small studios and individual artists media workflows. It is interesting to see the growth of SSD external storage offerings as well as HDD products. As the price of NAND flash declines, useful amounts of SSD storage become available at attractive prices.

2019 Digital Storage in Media and Entertainment Survey

Coughlin Associate, Inc. is conducting its 10th annual survey of digital storage requirements and practices for media and entertainment professionals, with results included in the 2019 Digital Storage for Media and Entertainment Report. Top level results will be provided to participants, if you provide your contact information. GThe survey ends on May 1, 2019. M&E professionals can participate in the survey.

About the Author:

Tom Coughlin, President, Coughlin Associates is a digital storage analyst as well as business and technology consultant. He has over 37 years in the data storage industry with multiple corporate engineering and management positions.

Dr. Coughlin has many publications and six patents to his credit. Tom is also the author of Digital Storage in Consumer Electronics: The Essential Guide, which is in its second edition with Springer. Coughlin Associates provides market and technology analysis as well as Data Storage Technical and Business Consulting services. Tom publishes the Digital Storage Technology Newsletter, the Media and Entertainment Storage Report, the Emerging Non-Volatile Memory Report and other industry reports. Tom is also a regular contributor on digital storage for Forbes.com and other blogs.

Tom is active with SMPTE, SNIA, the IEEE (he is President of IEEE-USA and active in the Consumer Electronics Society where he is chairman of the Future Directions Committee) and other professional organizations. Tom is the founder and organizer of the Storage Visions Conferences (www.storagevisions.com as well as the Creative Storage Conferences (www.creativestorage.org). He was the general chairman of the annual Flash Memory Summit, the world’s largest independent storage event for 10 years. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a member of the Consultants Network of Silicon Valley (CNSV). For more information on Tom Coughlin and his publications go to www.tomcoughlin.com.