Sonnet Echo Express III

Sonnet has announced the Echo Express III-D desktop and Echo Express III-R rackmount Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express Expansion Chassis, the newest members of their award-winning Echo family of Thunderbolt expansion chassis for PCIe cards. Featuring three PCIe slots, a 300W power supply and 75W auxiliary power connector, both chassis enable the use of a wide variety of high-performance PCI Express cards, originally designed for use in desktop computers, with any Mac equipped with a Thunderbolt port. These Sonnet products support every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available.

The Echo Express III-D desktop and Echo Express III-R rackmount chassis, both featuring dual Thunderbolt ports to support daisy-chaining of devices, were designed for users needing the optimum solution for connecting three PCIe cards to their computer. Both chassis support up to three full-length, full-height, single-width PCIe 2.0 cards with one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots. The III-D is well suited for use in most workflows and small enough to fit in many travel bags. The III-R mounts in a 2U tall (3.5-inches) rack space, and is just 15.75-inches deep, making it perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts and rack bags, and server rooms, as well.

The III-R even saves space for other equipment — using the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, users can install two 5.25-inch form factor mobile rack devices in the III-R’s enclosure. The mobile rack supports a wide array of devices — ranging from an internal LTO tape drive plus four swappable 2.5-inch SSDs, to an optical drive plus a Sonnet Qio MR pro universal media reader, or to three swappable 3.5-inch hard disk drives — without taking up additional rack space. The Mobile Rack Kit easily installs into the Echo chassis’ enclosure and houses one full-height (3.2-inches tall) or two half-height (1.6-inches tall) mobile rack devices up to 8-inches deep. A separate 80W power supply inside the Mobile Rack Kit powers the installed devices, while its internal fan works to keep things cool.

Each new Echo chassis integrates a universal 300W power supply and includes a 75W PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power, such as the AVID Pro Tools|HDX or the new RED ROCKET-X. Two large and remarkably quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans and airflow management ensure that hot-running cards and the chassis’ components remain reliably cool. Because the fans speed up and slow down in steps as needed, there is no guesswork in setting a switch position, nor the need for tools to change settings. The use of larger, slower-spinning fans offers the benefit of making the Echo Express III-D and III-R the quietest Echo chassis yet. These Sonnet solutions also conserve energy by powering on and off with the computer to which they are attached.

The Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R enable iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers equipped with a Thunderbolt port to use Thunderbolt-compatible professional video I/O, audio interface, SAS and SATA HBA, 8 Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gb Ethernet, and RAID controller cards. The list of compatible cards is available on Sonnet’s website and is continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified. Like the other models in the Echo family, the Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R were designed, engineered, and built by Sonnet in California. The systems are backed with Sonnet’s Pro five-year warranty.

“The Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R were designed incorporating pro users’ requests,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Building upon the design of the Echo Express Pro, adding a third PCIe slot was an obvious improvement, but designing a chassis specifically for use in mobile racks, carts, and rack-bags enabled us to think ‘outside the box’.” Said Farnsworth, “Utilizing the extra space in the rackmount enclosure as a mounting space for mobile rack form factor devices is just one of several features born out of the merging of customer input and creative design work.”

The Echo Express III-D has a suggested retail price of $979. The Echo Express III-R has a suggested retail price of $1,199. The Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit has a suggested retail price of $149.95. All are expected to be available in August 2013.