Sonnet has unveiled the Echo Express SEL, its latest addition to the Echo Express line of Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion systems. Like the other members of the Echo Express family, the SEL 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 new model is dubbed as the smallest and quietest Echo chassis yet, and supports one low-profile PCIe card.
The Echo Express SEL incorporates ultra-fast Thunderbolt 2 technology, which delivers twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt and provides sufficient throughput to support many of the highest-performing and most demanding PCIe cards. The new expansion chassis is suitable for use with high-bandwidth networking cards, host bus adapters, and storage interface cards, allowing them to connect with Thunderbolt-enabled iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers, as well as Mac Pro computers that lack PCIe expansion slots.
The Echo Express SEL supports low-profile, single-width PCIe 2.0 x8 cards. The majority of the most popular Thunderbolt-compatible 16Gb and 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, SAS and SATA host bus adapters, and RAID controller cards fall into this category, making the SEL suitable for users needing a discrete, quiet, and fast PCIe chassis to connect one of these specialised interface cards to their computers. Thunderbolt 2 technology is essential for enabling many high-performance cards, such as 10 Gigabit Ethernet, to yield optimal performance over Thunderbolt. In a test using Small Tree Communications' dual-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet CAT6 Network Adapter with the Echo Express SEL, performance increased by 40% compared to the same card tested in a standard 10 Gb/sec Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis.
The SEL features an ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled fan to help keep even warm cards cool. When not needed, the fan slows down to a whisper.
The Echo Express SEL ships with an 80W external power adapter, keeping the system's energy usage low. The SEL also conserves energy by automatically powering on whenever the connected computer powers on or wakes, or powering off when the computer powers off or sleeps.
"Many of our customers that have only one PCIe card, such as a high-speed 10 Gigabit Ethernet, Fibre Channel, or high bandwidth storage interface card, need the increased performance of Thunderbolt 2 but want the smallest and quietest chassis possible," said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. "Now, users purchasing a new Mac Pro, or other Thunderbolt 2 technology-enabled computers, will be able to take advantage of the groundbreaking performance of Thunderbolt 2 technology using Sonnet's most affordable Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe card expansion chassis."