As the broadcast world ramps up for NAB 2014, the pre-show announcements are getting more and more exciting. Today, Sonnet have announced an xMac Pro Server that will securely house the new, cylindrical Mac Pro and allow you to connect three PCIe expansion cards via Thunderbolt 2. It provides 5.25″ mobile rack expansion — all in a 4U enclosure.
IRVINE, CA — 26th March, 2014. At the 2014 NAB show in booth SL10824, Sonnet Technologies will unveil the xMac Pro Server Thunderbolt 2-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion system and 4U rackmount enclosure for new Mac Pro computers. Similar in concept to Sonnet’s award-winning xMac mini Server for Mac mini computers, the xMac Pro Server securely mounts the Mac Pro horizontally inside a specially designed modular enclosure that connects three PCIe 2.0 slots to the computer via Thunderbolt 2 technology, and provides space to install additional equipment in two 5.25″ mobile rack bays.
By supporting every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available, the xMac Pro Server enables audio-video professionals to use the high-performance PCIe cards they need with the latest Mac Pro, which on its own lacks PCIe expansion slots. Supported cards include pro audio, Ethernet, and Fibre Channel, as well as SAS/SATA RAID controllers, and video capture and editing cards.
“With the success of our rackmountable xMac mini Server and Echo Express III-R Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion products, it was natural for us to properly address the need to efficiently rackmount the new Mac Pro and provide much-needed expansion capabilities,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Ever since the new Mac Pro was announced, our customers have been asking us for this product, and we believe they will be pleased with our solution.”
The xMac Pro Server’s heavy-duty steel outer enclosure provides secure mounting and protection for the Mac Pro, PCIe cards, and mobile rack devices installed inside. Occupying a 4U rack space (7″) and just 16″ deep, this system is perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack cases, as well as in a server room. The computer, PCIe card expansion system, and mobile rack devices reside in separate modules to simplify setup and maintenance. To make the Mac Pro fully rack- and road-ready, Sonnet constructed a protective cocoon for the computer out of formed steel and lined it with soft-touch padding to hold the computer firmly in place while safeguarding its lustrous finish.
The xMac Pro Server’s PCIe card expansion system incorporates ultrafast 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology, providing sufficient throughput to support many of the highest-performing PCIe cards. The expansion system supports up to three full-length PCIe cards with one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots. Along with an integrated 300-watt power supply, the system includes a 75-watt PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power such as the Avid Pro Tools HDX or the RED ROCKET-X cards.
Mounted on its side inside the xMac Pro Server, the Mac Pro is kept cool by a quiet and efficient cooling system with an airflow path that remains unchanged and unobstructed according to Apple’s specifications. The PCIe card expansion system’s two remarkably quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans manage airflow to ensure cool, reliable operation in noise-sensitive environments.
The xMac Pro Server extends the Mac Pro’s Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI interfaces to panel-mounted connectors on the back of the unit for easy external cable connection, while a USB 3.0 interface and power switch are mounted on the front to enable the user to conveniently connect a USB peripheral and activate the computer’s power switch. The included Thunderbolt cable connects the Mac Pro to one of the xMac Pro Server’s two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an included lock secures the Thunderbolt cables in place when connected to the expansion system. These features make the xMac Pro Server ideal for use in both fixed and mobile applications.
With the optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit, the xMac Pro Server provides space for additional expansion equipment. Users can install two 5.25″ mobile rack devices in the outer enclosure and connect them easily to cards installed in the PCIe slots. Without taking up additional rack space, the kit supports a wide array of devices such as an internal LTO tape drive, four or eight swappable 2.5″ SSDs, a Blu-ray burner, a Sonnet Qio MR pro universal media reader, or three swappable 3.5″ hard disk drives. The kit easily installs into the xMac Pro Server’s enclosure, and an integrated 100-watt power supply inside the kit powers the installed devices while its internal fan works to keep the devices cool. Sonnet will also offer preconfigured kits that include the mobile rack devices, PCIe card, and necessary cables.
Along with the new xMac Pro Server, Sonnet expects to display the RackMac Pro, its upcoming rackmount enclosure for two Mac Pro computers. Similar to the xMac Pro Server in many ways, the RackMac Pro offers users a simpler way to rack one or two Mac Pro computers in a 4U rack space. Pricing and availability will be announced at a future date.
The xMac Pro Server (part number XMAC-PS) has a suggested retail price of $1,499 and is expected to be available from 2nd June. The basic-edition Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit, formerly named Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit (part number EXP3FR-MRM), has a suggested retail price of $199 and is available now. An extensive list of PCIe cards compatible with the xMac Pro Server is available on Sonnet’s website, with the list continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified. Like Sonnet’s Echo Express family of Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion systems, the xMac Pro Server was designed, engineered, and built by Sonnet in California.
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