Syntech, a South African based IT hardware distributor, and Sonnet recently announced the Echo™ Express III-D desktop and Echo Express III-R rackmount Thunderbolt™-to-PCI Express® Expansion Chassis, the newest members of Sonnet’s award-winning Echo family of Thunderbolt expansion chassis for PCIe® cards. Featuring three PCIe slots, a 300W power supply, and 75W auxiliary power connector, both new Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion chassis enable the use of a wide variety of high-performance PCI Express cards — originally designed for use in desktop computers — with any Mac® computer with a Thunderbolt port. These Sonnet products support every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available.

Both the Echo Express III-D desktop and Echo Express III-R rackmount chassis feature dual Thunderbolt ports to support daisy-chaining of devices, and are designed for users needing the optimum solution for connecting three PCIe cards to their computer. Each new chassis supports up to three full-length, full-height, single-width PCIe 2.0 cards with one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots. The III-D is well-suited for use in most workflows and small enough to fit in many travel bags. The III-R mounts in a 2U tall (3.5 inches) rack space, and its enclosure is just 15.75 inches deep, making it perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack bags, and even server rooms, as well.

The III-R even saves space for other equipment — utilizing the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, users can install two 5.25-inch form factor mobile rack devices in the III-R’s enclosure. The mobile rack supports a wide array of devices — ranging from an internal LTO tape drive plus four swappable 2.5-inch SSDs, to an optical drive plus a Sonnet Qio™ MR pro universal media reader, to three swappable 3.5-inch hard disk drives — without taking up additional rack space. The Mobile Rack Kit easily installs into the Echo chassis’ enclosure and houses one full-height (3.2 inches) or two half-height (1.6 inches) mobile rack devices up to 8 inches deep. A separate 80W power supply inside the Mobile Rack Kit powers the installed devices while its internal fan works to keep things cool.

Each new Echo chassis integrates a universal 300W power supply and includes a 75W PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power, such as the Avid® Pro Tools|HDX or the new RED® ROCKET-X. Two large, remarkably quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans and airflow management ensure that hot-running cards and the chassis’ components remain reliably cool. Because the fans speed up and slow down in steps as needed, there is no guesswork in setting a switch position, and no need for tools to change settings. Larger, slower-spinning fans make the Echo Express III-D and III-R the quietest Echo chassis yet. They also conserve energy by powering on and off with the computer to which they are attached.

The Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R enable iMac®, Mac mini, 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, 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10Gb Ethernet, and RAID controller cards. The list of compatible cards is available on Sonnet’s website and is continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified. Like the other models in the Echo family, the Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R were designed, engineered, and built by Sonnet in California. The systems are backed with Sonnet’s Pro five-year warranty.

“We designed the Echo Express III-D and Echo Express III-R with pro users’ requests in mind,” said Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. “Building upon the design of the Echo Express Pro, adding a third PCIe slot was an obvious improvement, but designing a chassis specifically for use in mobile racks, carts, and rack-bags enabled us to think outside the box. Using the extra space in the rackmount enclosure as a mounting space for mobile rack form factor devices is just one of several features that merge customer input and creative design work.”

The Echo Express III-D and III-R (part number ECHO-EXP3F-R) are expected to be available at Syntech from September 2013. More information on Syntech and its other products is available at