Sonnet boosts Mac Pro ready Thunderbolt 2 expansion range

Computer expansion

Sonnet's xMac Pro Server
Expansion in the box: Sonnet’s xMac Pro Server puts the Mac Pro in a rack. Picture: Sonnet.
Sonnet, the manufacturer of Mac-focused computer accessories and expansion systems, has added two new models to its 20Gbps hardware range.

Both models are aimed at owners of Apple’s new Mac Pro workstations, which feature no internal PCIe expansion slots but do have multiple, Thunderbolt 2 ports. The new ports are capable of 20Gbps throughput on the 2013 Mac Pro.

The Echo Express SEL supports a single, low-profile PCIe card, and Sonnet claims it is the smallest and quietest expansion unit it has designed so far. Applications for the chassis include video capture, host bus adapter, or network cards. Other expansion devices or Thunderbolt hardware can be daisy-chained to the SEL’s second Thunderbolt port.

Sonnet says that an expansion card fitted to the new chassis can be 40 per cent quicker than one installed in a standard, 10Gbps, Thunderbolt sub-system.

The company’s other new announcement, the xMac Pro Server, is a rack-mount expansion chassis for the 2013 Mac Pro. The 4U industry-standard, 19-inch enclosure can house a Mac Pro as well as three PCIe expansion cards, which connect to the host computer over Thunderbolt 2.

The expansion unit, which fits the Mac Pro horizontally, also has two 5.25-inch bays to fit other hardware, such as tape drives, card readers, or hard disks. Buyers of the XMac Pro Server need to buy a Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit to install hardware in the bays.

The kit adds a 100-watt power supply for the additional devices. This is in addition to a 300-watt power supply for the main rackmount system, which in turn provides 75 watts of power via a PCIe power connector, for cards that need it.

The xMac Pro Server will cost US$1499 and is likely to appeal to users who want to install Mac Pros both in data rooms, as well as in studios or edit suites designed for rackmount gear.

The SEL will cost US$399.