updated 06:02 pm EDT, Mon September 16, 2013
Sonnet shipping original model, replacing with Thunderbolt 2 when available
Sonnet has announced the Echo Express SE II, the replacement for the Echo Express II Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis. The new model adds enhanced capabilities and sells at a lower price, and also includes a coupon for a free upgrade to exchange it for a Thunderbolt 2 version when it becomes available this fall. Accommodating cards up to 7.75 inches long, the Echo Express SE II supports nearly every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card on the market, including double-width cards consisting of a PCIe card plus daughter card.
The original 10 gigabit per second Thunderbolt interface provided breakthrough bandwidth for external expansion, more than sufficient to support the maximum performance of most PCIe cards. However, some high-bandwidth cards, such as 16 Gb Fibre Channel and multiport 10 Gb Ethernet cards or multiple bandwidth-hungry cards, require more than 10Gb per second. Featuring 20GB per second Thunderbolt 2 technology, the Echo Express SE II chassis squeezes every bit of performance out of even the most demanding PCIe cards, ensures optimum performance with every compatible computer, and is backward compatible with computers equipped with 10 Gb Thunderbolt.
The new chassis supports two half-length (up to 7.75 inches long), full-height, single-width PCIe 2.0 x8 cards, and provides an additional space for a daughter card. Some specialty cards, such as RME's HDSPe MADI FX card, Blackmagic Design's DeckLink 4K Extreme, and the Lynx AES16e-50, include a daughter card that mates with and provides additional external connections to the main card. The SE II provides the space and mounting support for a daughter card without sacrificing a PCIe slot. Like all Echo Express expansion chassis, the SE II has dual Thunderbolt ports to support daisy-chaining of devices and features a large, quiet, temperature-controlled fan to help keep hot-running cards cool.
The Echo Express SE II enables iMac, Mac mini, new Mac Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers equipped with a Thunderbolt port to use Thunderbolt-compatible professional video I/O, audio interface, SAS and SATA HBA, 16 Gb and 8 Gb Fibre Channel, 10 Gb Ethernet, and RAID controller PCI-E cards. The list of compatible cards is available on Sonnet's website, and is continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified.
The Echo Express SE (part number ECHO-EXP-SE2) will be available September 23 for $499. The Echo Express SE II equipped with Thunderbolt 2 will be available when Thunderbolt 2 hosts, such as the new Mac Pro, ship this fall. Until then, Sonnet will ship the expansion chassis equipped with 10 Gb Thunderbolt, and will include a coupon for a free exchange to Thunderbolt 2, with the customer paying only shipping and handling costs.