Sonnet says its xMac mini Server, a combination PCI Express (PCIe) 2.0 expansion system and 1U rackmount enclosure for Mac mini computers with Thunderbolt ports, is now USB 3.0-compatible.
It connects to the Mac mini’s Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and USB interfaces and extends them to panel-mounted connectors on the front and back of the unit. What’s more, Sonnet will offer existing xMac mini Server customers an upgrade path with a replacement cable kit. The kit — due in mid-November for US$39.95 — replaces the existing USB 2.0 cables, and requires only a screwdriver and nut driver to complete the task.
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 temperature-controlled 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 compatible only with the Mac Pro. 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.
The USB 3.0-compatible xMac Mini Server (part number XMAC-MS) is available now for $1,295. More information on the product and compatible PCIe expansion cards is available at www.sonnettech.com/product/xmacminiserver.html .