Sonnet Echo Express PCIe 2.0 Expansion Chassis with Thunderbolt Ports

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Sylonien, Jun 22, 2011.

  1. Sylonien macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011

    Was originally looking for a Thunderbolt external RAID system to use as a scratch disk (and when they might be released), but then randomly stumbled upon this gadget.

    Was wondering what we can use it for (ie. for my iMac example)? Great that you can plug in PCIe cards, but don't you need drivers to run those things. Surely we can't just use any card out there like a GTX590 or a X-fi sound card?

    Only thing I can think of is stuff like made for the Mac Pro (like Apple's own RAID card) but now be able to use it on the iMac / Macbook instead.)
  2. Sylonien thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
  3. w00t951 macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2009
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I shot an email to Sonnet Support asking precisely this question. I also asked him 1) whether it works with the HD 6850 or the 6870 2) whether video is sent through the GPU or back through the monitor 3) whether there is any performance impact. I'll update you when I get a reply.
  4. L0s7man macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2009
    Here's what I was thinking about... Suppose you had not 1, but 2 Thunderbolt ports. i.e. like having 2 PCI-e slots available. I wonder if you could use them at the same time to get better throughput.

    1 TB port has 2 channels and you can use both at the same time for more throughput; why not scale that to 4 channels?

    Or do something like SLI/Crossfire with cheaper cards. One card per TB port. Sure, TB is not good enough for top of the range, but there might be a benefit of packing 2x cheaper crossfire GPUs.

    Mac Mini server with 2xSSD drives and external GPU would be a fun combo ;-)

    There are interesting opportunities here for sure.
  5. Sylonien thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Does sound interesting and would for sure beat the internal iMac graphics card. But the question is, as I wondering before. What happens with the driver and stuff. Seems bizarre on what you can really use it for at the moment. :confused:
  6. jesushavemercy macrumors member

    Jul 6, 2011
    Hmm.. I think it might only work for windows ? Because of the drivers issue.
  7. HurryKayne macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2010
  8. Sylonien thread starter macrumors regular


    May 21, 2011
    Indeed drivers would seem to be the biggest issue. But then it wouldn't make much sense since it seems to be aimed (at the moment) primarily at Apple Thunderbolt, but then if it only works under Windows drivers (through Thunderbolt).

    Sounds complicated. Weird!
  9. L0s7man macrumors 6502

    Feb 26, 2009
    I presume this is just like putting a card in PCI-E slot. It probably means that if you put GPU there you can forget about using it in Mac OS X, unless you use one of the Mac Pro GPUs. However, I would hope Windows would just see it normally and standard drivers should work.

    Well, this is only speculation. We shall see how it goes...
  10. Erendiox macrumors 6502a


    Oct 15, 2004
    Brooklyn NY
    You guys aren't quite seeing the whole picture. GPUs aren't the only PCI cards out there. There are expansion cards, think Firewire, USB 3.0, eSATA. This could also be used to expand the iMac's connectivity to include professional connections that were not otherwise available, such as Fibre Channel, Mini-SAS, external PCI, etc. It opens up a HUGE array of high end peripherals that, until now, required a Mac Pro to interface with. Video I/O, which includes AJA and Blackmagic PCI cards. The list goes on.
  11. AVTPro macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2006
    This would be an extremely useful use of this set up.

    4K video on a iMac playing at 30fps.

    I'm just having a problem finding the exact prices for the this.
  12. miliefisathand macrumors newbie

    May 18, 2012
    This is definitely good news for audio engineers. in the past if one relied on a pcie protools HD, or apogee 64x or lynx setup you had to have a mac pro in your studio.

    This type of thing may be one step closer to making desktop machines obsolete.

    signal chain could be

    macbook pro>protools hd card>weiss converters ad/da>neve clone>monitors/rediculously pricy microphone

    a good sized backback can haul all that.


    magma also has their own chassis that has 6 slots. but its way more expensive naturally.

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