Sonnet Announces New Thunderbolt 3 Upgrade and Expansion Solutions

August 2 2017, 03:00
Sonnet Technologies announced the immediate availability of Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards for its existing Thunderbolt 2 expansion systems, providing all the benefits of Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and allow use with the latest MacBook Pro and iMac computers. Sonnet also released new Thunderbolt 3 editions of all its Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion systems, and will soon show the new eGFX Breakaway Box, designed specifically for graphics cards.

Sonnet Technologies announced the immediate availability of Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards for existing Thunderbolt 2 Echo Express SE II, III-D, and III-R expansion systems, giving those models greater bandwidth for users' installed PCIe cards, and providing Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. Sonnet's Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards feature dual 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 ports that support the daisy-chaining of up to five additional Thunderbolt peripheral devices. They support backward compatibility for 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2- and 10Gbps Thunderbolt-equipped devices when connected via the Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)-to-Thunderbolt 2 Adapter. As an added benefit, the second Thunderbolt 3 port also supports a variety of displays and a multitude of USB 3.1, USB 3.0, and USB 2.0 devices when connected with the proper cable, and fully supports the DisplayPort 1.2 protocol, which enables streaming to one 4K display at 120 Hz, two 4K displays at 60 Hz, or one 5K display at 60 Hz.

"We are proud to deliver on our promise of a simple upgrade path by offering our customers Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards for their current Thunderbolt 2-based Echo Express SE II, III-D, and III-R expansion chassis," says Greg LaPorte, vice president of sales and marketing, Sonnet Technologies. "More than simple adapters, these upgrades offer users better performance, plus 40Gbps bandwidth and Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) connectivity for daisy-chaining additional peripheral devices."

Sonnet's Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards are simple to install, merely requiring the user to remove the existing Thunderbolt 2 interface card and plug in its replacement. There are no software updates to install to support the upgraded chassis. Thunderbolt 3 upgrade cards for the Echo Express SE II (part number BRD-UPGRTB3-SE2), and the Echo Express III-D or III-R (part number BRD-UPGRTB3-E3) are available now, each with an MSRP of $149.

Thunderbolt 3 Products
Sonnet also released new Thunderbolt 3 editions of its Echo Express SEL and Echo Express SE I Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion systems. The compact and lightweight SEL and SE I chassis harness Thunderbolt 3 to enable data transfers up to 2,750 MB/s for both Mac and Windows computers, supporting a wide variety of high-performance PCIe cards. Differing only in size, the single-slot SEL and SE I systems are ideal for use in situations in which users only need to connect a single PCIe card. With the new interface, both systems enable users of computers equipped with 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports.

Sonnet already introduced Thunderbolt 3 editions of its popular three-slot Echo Express III-D (desktop) and Echo Express III-R (2U rackmount) Thunderbolt-to-PCIe expansion systems, as well as the all-new, compact three-slot Echo Express SE III desktop system.

The Echo Express SE III, is the newest member of the company's award-winning Echo Express family of Thunderbolt-to-PCI Express (PCIe) expansion systems. With full support for Thunderbolt 3, introduced in May 2017. The Echo Express SE III is a compact desktop device that enables the use of up to three high-performance PCIe cards with Mac computers equipped with Thunderbolt 3 ports. 

The Echo Express SE III features three x8 PCIe 3.0 slots, accommodates full-height, half-length+ (up to 7.75 inches long) PCIe cards, and connects them to one of the Mac's Thunderbolt 3 ports via the included 0.5-meter Thunderbolt 3 cable. The unit supports nearly every Thunderbolt 3- and Mac-compatible PCIe card available, except those longer than 7.75 inches in length or with auxiliary power requirements.

"As our most compact three-slot Echo Express system ever, the Echo Express SE III delivers full performance and the power of Thunderbolt 3 in a space-saving and lightweight design. It's ideal for broadcast, post, or A/V professionals who need the ability to connect multiple cards simultaneously but don't need to use full-length cards," says Robert Farnsworth, CEO of Sonnet Technologies. "The Echo Express SE III is the latest model in the industry's most extensive line of Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion systems."

The Echo Express SE III provides two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports. One port is reserved for connection to the computer, while the second supports daisy chaining of up to five additional Thunderbolt peripheral devices plus two 4K monitors or one 5K display, or a single USB device. The system provides up to 15W of power to any connected peripheral or host.

The system includes an automatic, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fan that cools the cards quietly, with energy-saving operation that powers the unit on and off automatically with the computer. The Echo Express SE III's rugged aluminum housing provides robust and secure protection for the installed cards, and the included Sonnet ThunderLok 3 Thunderbolt connector retainer clip guards against accidental disconnection of the Thunderbolt 3 cable.

The Echo Express SE III (ECHO-EXP-SE3-T3) is available for a suggested retail price of $499. 

New eGFX Breakaway Box
Sonnet also designed a new eGFX Breakaway Box, a Thunderbolt 3 to PCI Express (PCIe) expansion solution designed specifically for bandwidth-intensive video graphics cards. The eGFX Breakaway Box enables the use of all the popular GPU cards that support connecting to a computer over Thunderbolt — such as AMD Radeon R9 and RX and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 7, 9, and 10 series — with Thunderbolt 3-equipped computers, providing GPU support for computationally intensive applications and games. (A list of supported computers and GPU cards is available on the Sonnet Technologies product page, The box's single-port, 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 interface ensures the 2,750 MB/s bandwidth is dedicated to the installed card.

In addition to GPU cards, the Breakaway Box supports every Thunderbolt 3-compatible PCIe card regardless of length or height and is Thunderbolt certified for both Mac and Windows. The new Sonnet system is the coolest and quietest eGFX box on the market, with a built-in, variable-speed, temperature-controlled fan that quietly and effectively cools the installed card.
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