Sonnet Ships Compact Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe Expansion Chassis

IRVINE, CALIF. — Sonnet announced 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 cards—originally designed for use in desktop computers—with any Mac computer with a Thunderbolt port. Sonnet says the new model is the smallest and quietest Echo chassis yet, and supports one low-profile PCIe card.

The Echo Express SEL incorporates Thunderbolt 2 technology, which delivers twice the bandwidth of Thunderbolt. The new expansion chassis is intended 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. Plus, the Echo Express SEL's dual Thunderbolt 2 ports not only support full-bandwidth connectivity with 20 Gbps Thunderbolt 2-equipped host computers, but provide full backward compatibility with 10 Gbps Thunderbolt-equipped computers and devices, and support daisy-chaining of other Thunderbolt 2 and Thunderbolt devices.

The Echo Express SEL supports low-profile, single-width PCIe 2.0 x8 cards. The majority of the most popular Thunderbolt-compatible 16 Gb and 8 Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gb Ethernet, SAS and SATA host bus adapters, and RAID controller cards fall into this category. In a test using the Small Tree Communications dual-port 10 Gb Ethernet CAT6 Network Adapter with the Echo Express SEL, performance increased by 40 percent compared to the same card tested in a standard 10 Gbps Thunderbolt-to-PCIe chassis. The list of compatible PCIe cards is available on the Sonnet website..

Measuring 4-by-8.4-by-2.8 inches and weighing 1.75 pounds, Sonnet says the Echo Express 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 for $399.