Sonnet Technologies today announced that its Echo Express III-D (desktop), Echo Express III-R (rackmount), and Echo Express SE II (desktop) Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express (PCIe) card expansion chassis are the first devices of their kind to ship with 20 Gb/sec Thunderbolt 2 interfaces.
These models, which began shipping this week, are the newest members of Sonnet’s award-winning Echo Express family of expansion products that enable any Mac computer equipped with Thunderbolt 2 or Thunderbolt ports to interface with a wide variety of high-performance PCIe cards originally designed only for use in desktop computers.
The Echo Express III-D, Echo Express III-R, and Echo Express SE II incorporate ultra-fast Thunderbolt 2 technology, which delivers twice the throughput of 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt and provides sufficient bandwidth to support many of the highest performance and most demanding PCIe cards.
The new expansion chassis support every kind of Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available — enabling the use of professional video capture, audio interface, 16Gb and 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, SAS and SATA HBA, and RAID controller cards with Thunderbolt-enabled iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers.
Plus, the Sonnet systems’ dual Thunderbolt 2 ports support full-bandwidth connectivity with Thunderbolt 2-equipped host computers, full backward compatibility with 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt-equipped computers and devices, and daisy-chaining of other Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt devices.
Designed for users needing an optimum solution for connecting three PCIe cards to their computers, both the Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R provide one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots to support three full-length, full-height, single-width PCIe cards. Both chassis feature a built-in universal 300W power supply with a 75W auxiliary power connector to support PCIe cards with higher power requirements.
In addition, the systems integrate two large ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled cooling fans to enable their use in noise-sensitive environments. The companion Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit enables users to install one or two mobile rack-form-factor devices inside the Echo Express III-R chassis. Peripherals such as LTO tape drives, 2.5-inch SSD or HDD drives, 3.5-inch drives, Blu-ray burners, and memory card readers can be installed into the kit and connected to the PCIe cards installed in the chassis, saving rack space for other equipment.
The Echo Express SE II was designed for users needing a simple way to connect two adapter cards to their computers, and it supports all but long Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe cards. Weighing just 3.7 pounds and measuring only 6.5 inches wide by 11 inches long by 4.6 inches tall, the Echo Express SE II is compact and lightweight, and its rugged aluminum case provides excellent protection for the cards.
The new chassis supports two half-length (up to 7.75 inches long), full-height PCIe 2.0 x8 cards and provides an additional space for a daughter card. Some specialty cards, such as RME’s HDSPe MADI FX card, Blackmagic Design’s DeckLink 4K Extreme, and the Lynx Studio Technology AES16e-50, include a daughter card that mates with and provides additional external connections to the main card. The Echo Express SE II provides the slot space and mounting support for an adjacent daughter card without sacrificing an entire PCIe slot.
“Sonnet has consistently led the way in delivering high-performance and reliable Thunderbolt-enabled products, beginning with the first-ever suite of Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis, and now continuing with the only Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe solutions available,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Our new Echo Express III-D, Echo Express III-R, and Echo Express SE II not only deliver amazingly fast 20 Gb/sec performance when connected to Thunderbolt 2-equipped computers such as the new Mac Pro, but also are our quietest models yet and are fully compatible with even the earliest Thunderbolt-enabled Macs.”
Until now, the Echo Express III-D, III-R, and SE II have been equipped with 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt technology. Customers who have purchased these Echo Express systems received an in-box coupon for a free upgrade to Thunderbolt 2. These customers will be able to claim their Thunderbolt 2 upgrade from Feb. 3 to March 31, and more information can be found online.
The Echo Express III-D (part number ECHO-EXP3F-D) has a suggested retail price of $979. The Echo Express III-R (part number ECHO-EXP3F-R) has a suggested retail price of $1,199. The Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit (part number ECHO-EXP3FR-MRM) has a suggested retail price of $199. The Echo Express SE II (part number ECHO-EXP-SE2) has a suggested retail price of $499.