Sonnet is shipping its US$1,295 xMac mini Server (http://macte.ch/web9I) a combination PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 expansion system and 1U rackmount enclosure for the Mac mini with Thunderbolt ports.
The xMac mini Server transforms a Mac mini into an expandable rackmount server, mounting the computer inside a specially designed 1U rackmount enclosure that contains two PCIe 2.0 slots that connect to the computer through its Thunderbolt port. The expansion system features a 100W power supply and employs variable-speed fans to cool the cards and computer.
This system enables users to plug in two PCIe adapter cards — one half-length/low profile and one full-length/full-height — to slots connected to the Mac mini via an included Thunderbolt cable, while enabling the daisy-chain connection of additional Thunderbolt peripherals to the xMac mini Server’s second Thunderbolt port.
The Mac mini’s Gigabit Ethernet, USB, and HDMI interfaces are extended to panel-mounted connectors on the back of the unit. With these features, the Mac mini is able to use expansion cards normally usable only in the Mac Pro, and is suited as a stand-in for the now-discontinued Xserve for a smaller, lighter, and more compact footprint, according to Greg LaPorte, vice president of sales and marketing for Sonnet Technologies. This makes it ideal for use in cases such as a back office RAID Server, a metadata controller or mobile rack frequently used in mobile pro audio, or on-location shoots for cinema and other media projects, he adds.
The xMac mini Server requires the use of Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe expansion cards. Compatible cards fall into numerous categories including pro audio, Ethernet, Fibre Channel, SAS/SATA RAID controllers, video capture, and editing, with the list continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified.