• Overview
  • Technical Specifications
  • Configuration Ideas
  • Accessories

Use Up to Three PCIe Cards with Computers Lacking Expansion Slots

Echo Express III-D with Mac ProToday's ultra-light notebooks, mini, and all-in-one desktop computers now have tremendous processing power–power that many thought would only be possible in full-size workstation or large desktop computers. Smaller in size and more portable, they're very desirable. For pros in the creative fields, processing power alone is not enough. A prime example is the new Mac Pro®. Proven to be a processing powerhouse and packed with Thunderbolt 2 and USB 3.0 ports, it lacks the PCIe expansion slots necessary to install specialty cards to connect various video and audio inputs, for transcoding data, and to connect to high-speed storage and networks. With the Echo Express III-D, Sonnet has created a solution that leverages the paradigm shift enabled by Thunderbolt technology, allowing PCIe expansion slots to be connected outside a computer. This desktop Thunderbolt-to-PCIe card expansion chassis makes it possible for you to connect three professional video capture, audio interface, SAS or SATA HBA, 16Gb or 8Gb Fibre Channel, 10Gigabit Ethernet, and RAID controller PCIe cards to any Mac® with a Thunderbolt port.

PCIe Cards

Featuring 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology that provides sufficient bandwidth to support many of the highest performance and most demanding PCIe cards, the Echo Express III-D delivers maximum performance when connected to a computer with Thunderbolt 2. The III-D is also fully compatible with computers with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology, supporting the majority of cards at full-performance.


Key Features

Provides PCIe Card Expansion—Use high-performance PCIe cards with any Mac with a Thunderbolt port

Thunderbolt 2 Interface—Maximum performance with computers with Thunderbolt 2 technology, backward compatible with host computers and other devices equipped with 10Gbps Thunderbolt technology.

Three PCIe Slots—Supports three full-length, full-height, single-width cards, or one double-width card plus one single-width card

Remarkably Quiet—Large, temperature-controlled, variable-speed fans that automatically cool the cards, plus computer-modeled design that reduces airflow turbulence and velocity, combine to provide quieter cooling for all cards

Integrated Universal Power Supply—Built-in 300W power supply with 75W auxiliary power connector

Rugged Aluminum Housing—Provides robust and secure protection for any environment

Every Thunderbolt-Compatible Card Supported—Works with every Thunderbolt-compatible PCIe card, regardless of length or height.

5-Year Warranty Included at No Extra Cost—No extra charge for a 5-year warranty

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Three Slots, No Compromise

3 PCIe SlotsSonnet's Echo Express III-D supports three full-size PCIe cards, up to 12.28" (full-length). The III-D 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. Even with all that power, the III-D is enviro-friendly; it automatically powers on or off whenever the connected computer powers on or wakes, or powers off or sleeps, respectively. The use of large, slow-spinning fans in the Echo Express III-D makes it a remarkably quiet operator. Two Thunderbolt ports support daisy chaining of up to six devices to a single port on your computer.

Thunderbolt 20Gbps IconBuilt for Speed

Echo Express III-D with Mac Pro Setup20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 technology-equipped computers are here. The original 10Gbps 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 the RED ROCKETs, 16Gb Fibre Channel, multi-port 10Gigabit Ethernet cards, or the use of other bandwidth-hungry cards require more than 10Gbps. Thunderbolt 2 removes this barrier by providing more bandwidth for demanding applications. The Echo Express III-D's Thunderbolt 2 interface takes full advantage of this increased bandwidth to ensure optimum performance from installed cards when the chassis is connected to a Thunderbolt 2-equipped computer.  Need to connect to a computer equipped with 10Gbps Thunderbolt? No problem, the Echo Express III-D is fully compatible with earlier generation Thunderbolt computers as well.

Smart Design Inside and Out

Aluminum LogoConstructed of rugged and lightweight aluminum, the outer shell of the Echo Express III-D securely protects the PCIe cards installed inside, yet the chassis is light enough to carry without weighing you down. The fans are variable-speed and temperature-controlled, and the computer-modeled airflow management ensures that even hot-running cards remain reliably cool without the need to install an extra PCIe blower card that would prevent the use of one of the three slots. Because the fans automatically speed up and slow down as needed, there is no guesswork in setting a switch position, and no need for tools to change settings. Since Echo Express products automatically power on and off with your computer, there is no power switch needed on the chassis.

Top View of Echo Express III-D Fans

Fan Airflow

Quiet, Please

The Echo Express III-D was designed to be remarkably quiet so that it can be comfortably used in noise-sensitive environments, and it is one of Sonnet's quietest Echo chassis. Its dual, top-mounted, ultra-quiet, temperature-controlled fans assist the natural convection of warm air through the PCIe cards, and vents it out the top of the chassis through custom Venturi openings with low form-drag grills, resulting in reduced air velocity, turbulence, and consequently, fan noise.

 

PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart

Every Thunderbolt-Compatible Card Supported

The Echo Express III-D supports three single-width, full-length PCIe cards, or one double-width, full-length card plus one single-width card, enabling it to support every Thunderbolt-compatible card available. PCIe 1.1, PCIe 2.0, and PCIe 3.0 cards are supported. Do you have a card in mind but aren't sure it's compatible? We've worked closely with PCIe card manufacturers to provide a list of compatible cards on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart. The chart provides an up-to-date list of cards that have been tested to be recognized over a Thunderbolt connection and compatible with Thunderbolt technology requirements.

RED ROCKET Supporter

If you're a RED ROCKET user, you already know that the card normally takes two PCIe slots—one for the card itself and another for the BNC connector bracket (for HD-SDI output). Sonnet designed the Echo Express III-D to accommodate the card/bracket pair in a single slot. This Echo chassis includes mounting holes designed specifically for the installation of two BNC connectors, enabling you to install the ROCKET card in one slot and its BNC connectors in the Echo chassis' mounting holes, leaving the two remaining slots open. The extra bandwidth afforded by the Thunderbolt 2 interface doubles ROCKET's throughput, too.

Echo Express III BNC Connector Mounting Holes

Designed for BNC Connector Cables—Echo Express III-D's back panel has two mounting holes for BNC connectors, allowing the use of a RED ROCKET card without the need for the BNC connector bracket that would normally occupy a valuable PCIe slot.

Thunderbolt Cable LockThunderbolt Cable Lock Included

Sonnet includes a lock that secures Thunderbolt connectors(3) plugged into the Echo chassis. It is easy to install and prevents accidental cable disconnections.

Rackmount Version Available

Echo Express III-RThe Echo Express III is available in two versions, the Echo Express III-D (desktop) and Echo Express III-R (rackmount), to suit your workflow needs. The III-D's form factor makes it easy to transport. The III-R mounts in a rack space 2U tall, and is just 16" deep, making it perfect for use in a wide range of popular mobile racks, carts, and rack cases, and server rooms as well. The III-R even saves space for other equipment—with the optional Echo Express III-R Mobile Rack Kit, you can install one or two mobile rack devices in the III-R's rack enclosure.

5-Year Warranty Logo5-Year Warranty Included at No Extra Cost

There's no need for you to pay an additional 10–15% on top of the purchase price to extend the warranty period beyond one year—Sonnet backs the Echo Express III-D with its Pro 5-year warranty.

 

Sonnet Thunderbolt Expansion Partners

Sonnet works closely with the following partners to ensure Thunderbolt compatibility for their products. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for an up-to-date list of products that have passed Thunderbolt compatibility testing with Sonnet products.


AdobeAJAAppleATTOAvidBlack Magic DesignBlueFish 444CalDigitExaSANFocusriteFusion ioLynx Studio TechnologyMatroxMyricomREDRMESiennaSmall TreeSoftron Media ServicesSolid State LogicStorageDNATandberg DataTolis GroupTools On AirUniversal Audio

 

 


 PCIe cards and computer hardware shown in photos for illustration purposes; items sold separately.
Part No.  
ECHO-EXP3FD Echo Express III-D Desktop Thunderbolt 2 Expansion Chassis for PCIe Cards(1)
Hardware  
Warranty 5-year
Dimensions WxDxH: 3.8 x 16 x 10.2 in. (9.7 x 40.5 x 25.9 cm)
Weight  

7.5 lbs (3.4 kg)

Form Factor Desktop
External Connectors Two Thunderbolt
Internal Connector 6-pin Mini-Fit Jr (same type as on legacy Mac Pro motherboard; provides up to 75W of power for PCIe cards that require supplemental power)
Expansion Slots
  • One x8 mechanical (x8 electrical) PCIe 2.0
  • One x16 mechanical (x8 electrical) PCIe 2.0
  • One x8 mechanical (x4 electrical) PCIe 2.0
PCIe Cards Supported(1)
  • One full length, full-height, double-width PCIe card, plus one single-width card

    or

  • Three full length, full-height, single-width PCIe cards
Compatible PCIe Cards(2) Up-to-date PCIe cards listed on our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart
Power Supply Universal 300W, 115-230V AC, 50-60 Hz(5)
Operating Temperature

0˚ C to 35˚ C (32˚ F to 95˚ F)

RoHS Compliant Yes
Package Contents
  • Echo Express III-D chassis(1)
  • Power cord
  • Thunderbolt cable lock(3)
  • Documentation

Note: PCIe cards and Thunderbolt cable sold separately

 

 

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Mac Compatibility

Mac with a Thunderbolt or Thunderbolt 2 port

OS X 10.8.5+

PC Compatibility

PC with a Thunderbolt  or Thunderbolt 2 port(4)

Windows® 8, 7

PCIe Card Compatibility

For up-to-date PCIe card compatibility see our PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart


Technical Notes

  1. PCIe cards sold separately; requires Thunderbolt cable, available at the Sonnet Online Store.
  2. Compatibility requires the installation of Thunderbolt technology-aware drivers, available from the manufacturer. See our supporting PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for a list of up-to-date compatible PCIe cards.
  3. Thunderbolt cable lock is compatible with Apple and Sonnet Thunderbolt cables. For more information see Support Article FAQ 785.
  4. Windows requires a Thunderbolt 2 interface in the computer and in the expansion chassis to support more than two PCIe controllers. Note that some PCIe cards have a bridge to multiple controllers, so it is possible for a single dual-controller PCIe card to reach the limit if not connected via Thunderbolt 2. Not all Mac-compatible PCIe cards are also compatible with Windows. See the PCIe Card Thunderbolt Compatibility Chart for details.
  5. Power supply will operate at 90-115V AC, with linear power deration of 240W-300W over that range.


Specifications subject to change without notice.


Mac LogoWindows Logo PCI Express LogoroHS Logo


AVID Pro Tools|HDX 3 Record Rig
Divider Configuration Setup

DAW of choice – iMac, Mac mini, Mac Pro, MacBook Air, or MacBook Pro, configured the way you like it

Sonnet Echo Express III-D

LTO-6 tape drive

Pro Tools|HDX card(s) 1, 2 or 3

Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card with high-speed 2.5" SSD drives (sold separately)

Universal Audio UAD-2 SOLO, DUO, QUAD, or OCTO DSP accelerator card

Echo Express III-D + AVID

For many audio professionals, when it comes to multitrack recording at 96K, there's nothing like a Pro Tools|HDX (1, 2 or 3) setup. Until now, the workflow always required a PC or Mac Pro—big, bulky, and sometimes very loud. Change the game and utilize a streamlined system with a any Mac with a Thunderbolt port as your DAW and directly connect it to Sonnet's Echo Express III-D. If you have a lot of tracks to record and an HDX 3 setup is required, the Echo Express III has plenty of power (including an internal aux power cable) and cooling to support all three cards. Or, if you only need an HDX 2 set up, fill the third slot with a Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card (holds up to two SSDs) to deploy super fast Thunderbolt SSD storage right inside the Echo chassis. Another option would be to fill the third slot with a Universal Audio UAD-2 SOLO, DUO, QUAD, or OCTO DSP accelerator card to add plug-ins to beef up the sound of your mix.

 

Super DIT Mobile Rackmount System
Divider Configuration Setup

Mac Pro or MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt 2

Sonnet Echo Express III-D

RED ROCKET-X transcoding card

Sonnet Tempo SSD PCIe drive card with high-speed 2.5" SSD drives (sold separately)

ATTO ExpressSAS H680 (one SAS port connects to LTO drive, the second SAS port is available to connect up to four REDMAG Readers)

Super DIT Configuration

RED Digital Cinema's ROCKET-X is generating a lot of buzz. Optimized for the 6K RED DRAGON® sensor, this transcoding card is designed to enhance 4K playback and transcoding. With its 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 interface, the Echo Express III-D provides a great way to connect the card to your new MacBook Pro or Mac Pro with Thunderbolt 2. Add a Sonnet Tempo SSD Pro PCIe drive card (holds two SSDs) to deploy super fast Thunderbolt SSD storage right inside the Echo chassis. Add an ATTO ExpressSAS H680 card to connect an LTO-6 tape drive to one of its ports for backups, and up to four REDMAG readers for ingest through the card's other port.

 

 

Echo Express III-D Accessories Part No. Description

Thunderbolt Cable

Thunderbolt Cable TCB-TB-05M 0.5-meter Thunderbolt cable