Kool Tools: Echo Express SE II Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis
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Kool Tools: Echo Express SE II Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis

If you like "future proof" devices, you'll appreciate Sonnet's Echo Express SE II , the replacement for the Echo Express II Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis. The new model adds enhanced capabilities and sells at a lower price.

Also, it also includes a coupon for a free upgrade to exchange to Thunderbolt 2 when it becomes available this fall. The new two-slot Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion chassis enables the use of a wide variety of high-performance PCI Express (PCIe) cards -- originally designed for use in desktop computers -- with any Mac computer with a Thunderbolt port.

The original 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt interface provided breakthrough bandwidth for external expansion, more than sufficient to support the maximum performance of most PCIe cards. However, some high-bandwidth cards, such as 16 Gb fiber channel and multiport 10 Gb Ethernet cards or multiple bandwidth-hungry cards, require more than 10 Gb/sec.

Thunderbolt 2 removes this barrier by providing more bandwidth for demanding applications. Featuring 20 Gb/sec Thunderbolt 2 technology, the Echo Express SE II chassis squeezes every bit of performance out of PCIe cards. Plus, it's backward compatible with computers equipped with 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt.

The Echo Express SE II equipped with Thunderbolt 2 will be available when Thunderbolt 2 hosts, such as the new Mac Pro, ship this fall. Until then, Sonnet will ship the expansion chassis equipped with 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt, and will include a coupon for a free exchange to Thunderbolt 2 (the customer pays only shipping and handling costs). 

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 the longest Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe cards. Weighing 3.7 pounds and measuring 6.5 inches wide by 11 inches long by 4.6 inches tall, the SE II is compact and lightweight, yet its rugged aluminum case provides protection for the cards.

The new chassis supports two half-length (up to 7.75 inches long), full-height, single-width 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 AES16e-50, include a daughter card that mates with and provides additional external connections to the main card. A daughter card occupies an adjacent PCIe card space without filling a slot. The SE II provides the space and mounting support for a daughter card without sacrificing a PCIe slot.

The Echo Express SE II ships with an external, 80-watt power supply. Like all Echo Express expansion chassis, the SE II has dual Thunderbolt ports to support daisy-chaining of devices and features a large, quiet, temperature-controlled fan to help keep hot-running cards cool. The SE also conserves energy by automatically powering off when the computer to which it is attached sleeps or is disconnected.

The Echo Express SE II enables iMac, Mac mini, new Mac Pro, 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, 16 Gb and 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.

Accommodating cards up to 7.75 inches long, the Echo Express SE II supports nearly every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card on the market, including double-width cards (PCIe card plus daughter card). The Echo Express SE will be available Sept. 23 for US$499. For more info go to http://tinyurl.com/kbmtcpy


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