Sonnet Shipping First New Thunderbolt 2 PCIe Expansion Chassis

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 16, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Sonnet today announced the first Thunderbolt 2 expansion chassis, allowing owners of late 2013-era MacBook Pro and Mac Pro models to add two or three PCIe cards to their machines.

    There are three new options, desktop and rack mount three-slot chassis, plus a two-slot desktop version.

    Customers who purchased Thunderbolt 1 equipped expansion chassis can get free upgrades to the Thunderbolt 2 version. All the Thunderbolt 2 chassis are fully backwards-compatible with older Thunderbolt equipped Macs.

    The desktop three-slot version is available for $979, the rack mount three-slot is $1,199, and the two-slot desktop is $499.

    Article Link: Sonnet Shipping First New Thunderbolt 2 PCIe Expansion Chassis
  2. macrumors 68020

    Nov 4, 2008
    Shame it doesn't actually complement the Mac Pro.
  3. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 23, 2003
    Is that price for real???

    Don't see many of these moving...
  4. macrumors 68000


    Apr 5, 2005
    My Mac
    Does this mean I can add more GPU's to the new Mac Pro??? Can FCPX 10.1 handle 4 GPU's???
  5. macrumors member

    Aug 31, 2012
    These dont officially support Graphics Cards, right?

    I heard something about intel not approving external GPus andthen driver probs?
  6. macrumors 601


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Again, these are for professionals.


    I'm going to assume this can't handle higher-end video cards on PCI Express 3.0? Still not enough bandwidth.
  7. macrumors member

    Jan 31, 2010
  8. macrumors regular

    Aug 23, 2010
    I had the same question

    That would be a shame, external graphics card could make a MBA even more appealing
  9. barkmonster, Jan 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014

    macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    There's seems to be little information about the mobile rack add on.

    What it costs, how you control the drives added to it. It's not clear if it's some kind of solution with SATA and power cable leaving the 3 PCIe slots free for other uses or if you need a SATA card with multiple internal connectors and it just provides drive bays and power.

    In their suggested uses, it even shows a configuration with their own 4 port SATA card, yet all the ports are external. That makes no sense.
  10. macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2013
    I've seen Thunderbolt GPU's in similair looking enclosures, but i have heard also that Intel doesn't like the external GPU idea, so I don't suspect that I want will work right out of the box...

    the price...too much, sorry :(
  11. macrumors 68020


    Jun 22, 2006
    The thick of it
    I'm glad that Sonnet is shipping something in the near future. I'm still waiting for word on their Echo 15. The last update they posted was in October. There are still so few options for versatile T-Bolt docks. Sonnet got this one right, but who knows when -- if ever -- it will ship.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Nov 4, 2011
  13. macrumors newbie

    Nov 12, 2006
  14. macrumors 601


    Sep 21, 2010
    Why aren't graphics cards compatible?
  15. macrumors newbie

    Jan 16, 2014
    These aren't built for GPU's. Though they can work for a GPU.
    The card has to have a thunderbolt-aware driver. (driver code has to specify the resources they require and support hot-plugging)

    You might see someone use one to add in a Quadro or something to a Mac mini or iMac for high end GPU applications.

    I work in the audio industry. People use them to add DSP processing cards to Mac Pro, iMac, Mac mini. Usually Avid HDX cards. Sonnet and Magma both sell a lot of chassis to video people, they'll put a BlackMagic or other capture card in there, and sometimes a storage controller...then they have video ingest and a working drive in one box.
  16. macrumors 68020


    Dec 3, 2001
    There really should a Thunderbolt usage for beginners FAQ on here somewhere and if there is, it should be linked on every thunderbolt article for easy reference.

    Thunderbolt2 offers 2 x 10Gbit/s channels combined. Thunderbolt offers them as seperate channels. Neither of those speeds offer anywhere near the bandwidth of a 16xPCie card and even then, most higher end GPUs are double-wide and need internal power. You'd end up using 2 slots for 1 card, leaving only 1 PCIe slot for other uses and then cripple the card with bandwidth that doesn't even come close to 4xPCIe.
  17. macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2005
    Thunderbolt 2 certainly won't support PCIex16. It doesn't have the throughput.

    Your GPU would have to be PCIex8, and you would need to somehow get driver support for it within OS X. In other words, no.

    Maybe external GPUs will finally be viable when Thunderbolt 3 is released.
  18. macrumors 6502

    Apr 19, 2010
    Doubt it. Getting support for dual GPUs is going to be hard enough.


    Is there a simple data on average bandwidth use for 1x, 2x, 3x, and 4x GPU setups?
  19. macrumors member

    May 8, 2007
    Honestly, not really. There is a diminishing return do to the bandwidth. The more you add the lower bandwidth each card has available to it. Maybe if they hadn't dropped to 1 cpu and cutted bandwidth. Now if they released a dual cpu mac pro with twice the lanes and more bandwidth for TB2...
  20. macrumors 68040

    Dec 13, 2004
    But, what if you plug in the card before you boot up the system? Then, hot swapping support wouldn't be needed?
  21. macrumors 6502


    Jun 20, 2007
    Only if you boot into windows can you use an external GPU.
  22. magbarn, Jan 16, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2014

    macrumors 65816

    Oct 25, 2008
    Doesn't TB2 support channel bonding? Even without bonding the channels you still have 10Gbit which approx equal to PCIeX4. There's been several benchmarks done on earlier GPU cards with different PCIeXx connections and unless you're gaming at 1024x768, the loss in fps from going from PCIeX16 down to PCIeX4 is minimal at higher resolutions. The lack of a TB2 to GPU adapter is purely political from Intel and possibly Apple's standpoint as the ability to plug in a GTX780 to upgrade your 2012 rMBP would keep upgrade dollars out of their hands as the lowliest i5 in rMBP is more than capable of driving a AMD 290 or Nvidia GTX 780

    is a great article, looks like AMD cards take a smaller hit than Nvidia cards with <x16 PCIex
  23. macrumors 604

    Sep 23, 2003
    I can see them selling a few to Pro Tools users who have spent thousands on PCIe cards.
  24. macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2005
    If you have a mac with two TB ports, I don't really understand why one would buy the three-slot when you can get two of the two-slots for barely any more money… ?

    Great that these exist though.

    Yeah, they should have made it look like a stormtrooper! :)
  25. macrumors 6502

    Mar 18, 2013
    I've seen silver prototypes on the web at other shows. There is some problem with rights and legal carp. YouTube has videos of this with working with a reduction in performance, but it's better than the 4000intergrated tech we have now...

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