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A Rackmount Thunderbolt Chassis for Your Mac Mini

22 March 2013 4,500 views One Comment

Sonnet Technologies will soon ship a new Thunderbolt chassis for PCIe expansion for Mac mini from Sonnet. Not cheap, mind you, but definitely interesting…

The rollout of Thunderbolt peripherals and add-ons has been slow, though things — as in products — do finally seem to be coming along. A case in point is the new Thunderbolt/PCIe chassis for Mac mini from Sonnet. Not cheap, mind you, but definitely interesting.

Sonnet Technologies has announced the late April availability of the xMac mini Server 2H, a 1U rackmountable expansion enclosure for the Mac mini capable of holding two half-length, full-height PCIe cards.

“By adapting the original xMac mini Server’s design to create a new model which enables the installation of two full-height PCIe cards, we’ve provided an ideal solution for other workflow configurations that require two full-height PCIe cards but have no need for a full-length card,” Greg LaPorte, vice president, sales and marketing, Sonnet.

Additional features:
• Adds Connectivity and Capabilities to Mac mini — Connects two PCIe 2.0 slots via Thunderbolt technology to the Mac mini, supports high performance expansion cards
• Server Room Ready — 1U rackmount enclosure with user-replaceable power supply and fans, built-in cable management features
• Diverse PCIe Card Support — Supports Fibre Channel, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, pro video capture and playout, SAS/SATA RAID controllers, pro audio and other PCIe cards
• Supports Thunderbolt Expansion — Enables daisy chain connection of additional Thunderbolt technology devices through second Thunderbolt port
• Front Panel Operation — Front panel power button activates power switch on Mac mini; USB 3.0 port enables connection of keyboard, mouse, thumb drive, etc.
• Rear Panel Connectivity — Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI ports are mounted at the rear of the chassis for easy connectivity
• Energy Efficient — Variable-speed fans automatically adjust to the unique needs of each configuration, and the auto power on/off feature insures there is no energy wasted with cards powered on when the system is off

Or, put another way, your Mac mini can be a plug and play component in a high-end server, game or rendering system.

For example, a low-end Mac mini ($599) + xMac mini Server 2H ($1,299) + PCIe graphics cards ($279) + eSATA card ($599) and you could render video/3D graphics/etc at a prodigious rate.

Thunderbolt Chassis: Bring the Cost Down

Sonnet has “more affordable” Thunderbolt/PCIe expansion chassis, starting at $499, for folks just looking at applications like gaming and audio processing.

That said, Thunderbolt expansion would be much more attractive if one could buy a Mac mini + chassis + graphic card for under $1,000 — prices need to come down substantially. Of course, that’s a chicken and egg problem.

Nevertheless, interesting, interesting stuff…

What’s your take?

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