Sonnet now shipping new xMac Pro Server

Sonnet is now shipping its new xMac Pro Server with a Thunderbolt 2-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion system and 4U rackmount enclosure for the latest generation of Mac Pro computers. The xMac Pro Server securely mounts the computer horizontally inside a specially designed 4U modular enclosure, connects three PCIe 2.0 slots via Thunderbolt 2 technology, and provides space to install additional equipment in two 5.25-inch mobile rack bays. Unveiled at the 2014 NAB Show, the xMac Pro Server has already garnered industry awards.

“The xMac Pro Server builds on the success of our rack-mountable xMac mini Server and Echo Express III-R Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion products to provide much-needed expansion capabilities for the latest Mac Pro, which on its own lacks storage expansion and PCIe slots,” said Greg LaPorte, vice president of sales and marketing, Sonnet Technologies, in a statement. “By supporting every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card available, the xMac Pro Server enables audio-video professionals to fully leverage their investment in the new Mac Pro and still use the high-performance PCIe cards they need.”

The xMac Pro Server’s PCIe card expansion module incorporates ultrafast 20 Gb/sec Thunderbolt 2 technology, providing sufficient throughput to support many of the highest-performing PCIe cards, including pro audio, Ethernet, and Fibre Channel, as well as SAS/SATA RAID controllers and video capture and editing cards. The expansion system supports up to three full-length PCIe cards with one x16 and two x8 PCIe slots. Along with an integrated 300-watt power supply, the system includes one auxiliary 75-watt PCIe power connector for cards that require supplementary power, such as the Avid Pro Tools | HDX or the RED ROCKET-X cards. Two quiet, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans manage the airflow path according to the Apple operating guidelines for the Mac Pro, ensuring cool, reliable operation in noise-sensitive environments.

The xMac Pro Server’s Computer Mounting Module secures the Mac Pro in a protective steel cocoon covered inside with soft-touch padding, holding the Mac Pro firmly in place while protecting its mirror finish. The module extends the Mac Pro’s Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0, and HDMI interfaces to panel-mounted connectors on the back of the unit for easy external cable connection, while a USB 3.0 interface and power switch are mounted on the front to enable the user to conveniently connect a USB peripheral and activate the computer’s power switch. Because panel-mount connectors for Thunderbolt cables do not exist, the Computer Mounting Module provides cable management tie-downs for securing all Thunderbolt cables that are connected to the Mac Pro during installation. An included Thunderbolt cable connects the Mac Pro to one of the xMac Pro Server PCIe expansion system’s two Thunderbolt 2 ports, and an included lock secures the Thunderbolt cables in place when connected to the expansion system. These features make the xMac Pro Server ideal for use in both fixed and mobile applications.

Sonnet xMac Pro Server
Sonnet xMac Pro Server

The xMac Pro Server provides space for additional expansion equipment. With the optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit (Basic Edition), users can install two 5.25-inch mobile rack devices of their choice in the outer enclosure and connect them easily to cards installed in the PCIe slots. Without taking up additional rack space, the kit supports a wide array of devices such as an internal LTO tape drive, four or eight swappable 2.5-inch SSDs, a Blu-ray burner, a Sonnet Qio™ MR pro universal media reader, or three swappable 3.5-inch hard disk drives. Sonnet also offers preconfigured Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits that include the basic kit; one or two devices such as those mentioned above; a high-performance PCIe controller card to support the devices; and the necessary cables to connect them together. Users need only add their own hard drives, SSDs, or LTO tape drives to complete the package.

The xMac Pro Server (part number XMAC-PS) is now shipping at a suggested retail price of $1,499. The basic-edition Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit (formerly named Echo™ Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, part number EXP3FR-MRM) has a suggested retail price of $199 and is available now; preconfigured Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kits are also available now at retail prices ranging from $699 to $1,899. An extensive list of PCIe cards compatible with the xMac Pro Server is available on Sonnet’s website, with the list continually expanding as more cards are tested and certified. Like Sonnet’s Echo Express family of Thunderbolt 2-to-PCIe expansion systems, the xMac Pro Server was designed, engineered, and built by Sonnet in California.

More info:

Source: Sonnet Technologies Inc.

Related article:
Apple’s new Mac Pro: Does internal expandability really matter? – June 17, 2013


  1. That…looks very unsexy. Sorry Apple, but that conjures up images of 90s era Apple. As much as I loved the cartoons and video games of the 90s, I just don’t think that was Apple’s decade. In fact, this thing looks like something that runs Windows. Sorry, no bueno…

    1. You *do* realize don’t you that:
      1. This is a Sonnet product; it’s not from Apple
      2. This box is designed for rack mounting in a server room. It has to match industry standard rack dimensions.

    1. While this seems like a fairly workable and practical way to install a Mac Pro as a rack-mount component, it bothers me that there is even a need for a product like this. If there is demand for a such a product, then Apple should have simply maintained and updated the xServe, because this 4U approach is not very space-efficient.

      With the cancellation of the xServe, Apple indicated that it was not interested in being a player in servers, even though the xServe had significant appeal to academia and small and medium-sized businesses. I am hoping that Apple’s partnership with IBM will finally yield a fully functional and professional approach to enterprise computing that embraces and supports the Apple OS X and iOS ecosystems. Apple may not be that interested in the enterprise, but some companies/people in the enterprise are interested in Apple. Despite its growth and resources, however, Apple has not stepped up to that challenge.

    1. Ah, yes. I have a Danish desk with a 23 cm back pigeonhole ‘sill’ atop which the Mac Pro sits aside its row of peripherals, all but invisible behind the span of dual Thunderbolt displays. At times it whispers away the heat, responding to a complex caress of the gleaming keyboard. Best of all, there is ample space underneath for shoes carelessly kicked off, and no more bruises inflicted by the old aluminum chassis on a bare foot.

  2. Checked out a new Mac Pro. Tiny. Ran some tests at a friend’s Media Studio. Very fast for video editing and media creation. Smoking fast renders of large video projects.

    But, it wasn’t faster in any appreciable (billable) way than our production machines here doing almost any other task.

    Don’t look at this as a negative though. It really is meant to be a PRO machine.

    BTW- I think this Sonnet device is pretty clever.

    1. Yeah, but look at modern hardware like a Cisco UCS Blade Chassis and how much more compute power I can cram into the same U of space of a Mac Pro tower.

      The xServes were good for their day, but still a PITA with their rails, accessibility, IPMI never quite worked, RAID was funky on them, etc.

      Still using them tho to virtualize my Mac workloads however with ESX :).


    1. There are indeed some production shops that actually have computer rooms with racks. For the very few that have these, and for some reason can find a use for a MacPro as a networked device, I guess this product might be a godsend. I imagine enough people asked Sonnet about something like this to make them think it could be a viable product. I am scratching my head over the use scenario.

  3. So the Mac Mini Pro HTPC- aka new Mac Pro – needs a setup of about $2k to have proper I/O and is butt ugly. Way to go, Jony.

    With the truckload of money Apple has and a growing Mac market is it too much to ask for proper hardware without the fluff and foo foo?

    1. With the truckload of money Apple has, it probably doesn’t care about the server market. If you’ve compared Apple to Cisco lately, you’d probably notice that Apple is practically spinning donuts around Cisco. I do see your point but I doubt Apple is interested in supporting servers because there’s just not enough money in it. I think Apple already has its hands occupied. A fair number of its usual products don’t even get upgraded every year. We all know Apple has the money, but I’m guessing it doesn’t have enough staff to go around for miscellaneous projects.

      I’m damn curious as to how many Mac Pros Apple is selling every quarter. 10,000? 50,000? We may never know.

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