Tutorial: Leveraging Expandable Thunderbolt Video Storage with the G-Tech G-Dock evG-Tech's G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt delivers high-performance portable, expandable RAID storage tailor-made for the video production market, and accessorizes well with MacBook Pros, iMacs, and other Thunderbolt-compatible systems.
In this article we’ll take a look at the G-Technology G-Dock ev with Thunderbolt, an expandable video storage solution that’s part of the new G-Technology Evolution series.
The G-Dock ev is a dock for the G-Drive ev drives. These drives can be docked in the G-Dock or used as standalone USB Drives. The compact box set comes complete with a power supply, the drives, and the G-Dock. In addition, the G-Dock kit includes two USB 3 “Super Speed” cables, one for each of the two G-Drives, and a short Thunderbolt cable for the G-Dock.
Docking the Drives Once the SATA dust cover is removed, G-Drive ev modules can be docked into either opening of the G-Dock (Figure 1, below). The drive modules click into the G-Dock and the quick release button extends for easy release. With one terabyte on each G-Drive module in RAID 0 you will have 2TBs of total storage.
Figure 1. Docking the G-Drive modules. Powering Up Once you have the G-Drive modules in place, press the power button on the lower-right corner of the rear panel of the G-Dock unit, shown in Figure 2 (below).
Figure 2. The rear panel of the G-Dock with the fan, Thunderbolt connections, and power.
When the G-Dock powers up, the indicator lights on the front of one or both G-Drive modules will glow. This is your indication that the G-Drive module is firmly engaged and ready to be used.Connecting via Thunderbolt Now connect the Thunderbolt cable from one Thunderbolt port to the computer (Figure 3, below). Then connect any other Thunderbolt- or Mini DisplayPort-equipped device to the other Thunderbolt port on the rear of the G-Dock.
Figure 3. Connecting the G-Dock to a MacBook Pro via Thunderbolt.Once the G-Dock is connected to your computer, the light on each G-Drive module will begin to pulse, indicating drive activity. Formatting the Drives If this is your first time using the G-Dock and G-Drive modules, it may be necessary to use Disk Utility to format the drives.
Disk Utility is also helpful for creating a RAID 0 or 1 setting (Figure 4, below). RAID 0 stripes content across the drives, making the overall throughput much faster than a single drive.
Figure 4. Creating a RAID set in Disk Utility.
Testing G-Drive Speed We tested the two 1TB G-Drive modules in a disk speed test app, using the 4GB file setting. Figure 5 (below) shows the results.
Figure 5. Disk speed test results in a RAID 0 configuration.
The test results demonstrate that the G-Drive ev modules, combined together into RAID 0 in the G-Dock, impressively achieve over 250 MB/sec (Megabytes per second) writes and reads.
We also tested a single drive in the G-Dock, to see what speed we would get out of a single drive or two drives in the RAID 1 (Mirrored) configuration. Again the results (shown in Figure 6, below) were impressive, with the single G-Drive module yielding around 120 Megabytes per second of throughput on both reads and writes.
Figure 6. Disk speed test results in a RAID 1 configuration.
RAID In the Field The G-Dock provides a software RAID setup, via Apple’s Disk Utility software, so this means the drives can be used in RAID 0 or 1 configurations outside of the G-Dock dock as well.
For field work, this means you can connect both drives up to a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, and OS X will see the same RAID as it did when you used the G-Dock. You can also use the G-Drive modules in single-drive configurations.
Some readers have asked how the RAID 0 in the field, using USB 3, compares to the RAID 0 in the G-Dock, using Thunderbolt. We again used our disk speed test application with 4GB test blocks, and were pleasantly surprised. There was less than 1 MB/sec difference between the USB 3 and Thunderbolt RAID 0 configurations.
RAID 0 for the G-Drives in 10 Bit YUV 4:2:2, meant we could read and write 2K up to 25 fps, clearing every hurdle on the test except for 1080p50 and 1080p59.94 content (Figure 7, below).
Figure 7. Speed test results for individual G-Drives in RAID 0.Now, if you plan to pop out the drives and use them on their own, don’t forget to replace the SATA connector dust cover.
SATA Connector One quick note about the SATA connector. Based on the configuration of the SATA and USB 3 Super Speed connectors on the back of the G-Drive module, there’s clearly an offset SATA board inside the G-Drive. This means you can’t just stick a standard, bare SATA drive into the G-Dock slot if you’re in the field. Yes we tried it, just in case, so you wouldn’t have to.The standard SATA sits on the far left but isn’t quite in the same place as the G-Drive SATA connector. Fortunately, if you need a spare, they are available at Videoguys.com. Look and Feel What about the look and feel of the G-Dock? G-Tech has done a good job matching the look of the G-Dock to the laptops and other systems you’re most likely to use with it; the G-Dock screams “Mac-compatible product to sit alongside your Mac Mini, iMac, or even the older-style Mac Pro and not be aesthetically out of sorts.” Of course, it will work equally as well on any Thunderbolt-equipped Mac or PC.
The G-Dock ev measures just under 8 inches long, 5” wide, and 3.5” high. And that concludes our walkthrough of the G-Dock ev expandable video storage solution.
For more information about the G-Tech G-Dock ev, and special limited-time expanded-storage options Videoguys.com at 800-323-2325.