The Usefulness of JMR PCIe Expansion Systems


When Apple redesigned the Mac Pro in 2013, the architecture of its internal components was reorganized to maximize performance and minimize heat via a unified thermal core. What resulted was a streamlined system that was leaner, lighter, and quieter. While users are now able to engage in more advanced tasks, such as 4K video editing and intensive RAW photo processing, one thing missing was the expandability options that were present in the previous generation Mac Pro Tower systems, which had included multiple 3.5" SATA drive bays and PCIe slots. To help increase the 2013 Mac Pro’s capabilities in these areas, JMR has released several PCIe to Thunderbolt enclosures. Available in several different configurations, each of these enclosures will house a Mac Pro internally and provide it with the ability to expand its storage, as well as integrate with PCIe cards.

For users who prefer to work with 2.5" hard drives or solid-state drives in a tower form factor, JMR offers the Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Eight-Bay RAID Enclosure. Equipped with eight hot-swappable 2.5" SAS/SATA drive bays, it uses a 6 Gb/s SAS RAID controller card that allows users to choose from RAID 0, 1, 4, 5, and 6. Once configured, the enclosure can deliver data transfer rates up to 1,200 MB/s. Additionally, four full-height and full-length PCIe slots operate mechanically at x16, and electrically at x4. The addition of PCIe slots to your Mac Pro means that it can accommodate accessories such as Fibre-channel adapters, 10 Gigabit Ethernet networking cards, video capture cards, audio interface cards, dedicated graphics cards, RED Rocket-X cards, and more. While there are four total PCIe slots, one is occupied by the 6 Gb/s SAS RAID controller, leaving three available.

JMR Electronics Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Eight-Bay RAID Enclosure

For those who still wish to have their Mac Pro housed in an enclosure, but work in environments where a tower form factor would occupy too much space, JMR has designed the Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Eight-Bay RAID Enclosure with Rackmount Kit. It features the exact specs as the unit with the tower form factor, yet includes a rail kit for alternative mounting methods.

JMR Electronics Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Eight-Bay RAID Enclosure with Rackmount Kit

Since 2.5" drives are often limited by their maximum capacity and cost per gigabyte, especially when it comes to solid-state drives, JMR has come up with another option for Mac Pro users who not only want their system to be housed internally, but also desire to equip it with large amounts of storage that is more cost effective. To this end, the Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Three-Bay RAID Enclosure with Rackmount Kit is equipped with three 3.5" SAS/SATA drive bays. While there are larger-capacity 3.5" drives available, such as 10TB models, they will not achieve the faster data-transfer speeds of 2.5" solid-state drives. This configuration also includes the rail kit for alternative mounting methods, as well as the same specs as the two previously discussed models.  

JMR Electronics Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Three-Bay RAID Enclosure with Rackmount Kit

For those who may already have an external storage solution on their Mac Pro, yet desire both PCIe expansion and an internal housing for their Mac Pro, look no further than the Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Desktop Enclosure. This unit has the tower form factor of JMR’s Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Eight-Bay RAID Enclosure, but lacks the eight 2.5" drive bays and the RAID controller. The lack of a RAID controller also means that all four PCIe slots will be available, instead of just three.

Aside from the differences in drive bays, form factor, and availability of a RAID controller, JMR’s PCIe to Thunderbolt enclosures share the same foundation: four Thunderbolt 2 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, one HDMI port, and a Gigabit Ethernet port. Connectivity to your Mac Pro is established using two of the unit’s Thunderbolt 2 ports, which connect to two of your Mac Pro’s Thunderbolt 2 ports.

JMR Electronics Mac Pro PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 Desktop Enclosure

If the storage and PCIe expansion offered by JMR’s PCIe to Thunderbolt 2 enclosures isn’t enough, fear not, as the 3G BlueStor Sixteen-Bay SHARE Network Storage Server lineup offers users capacities of 16TB (16 x 1TB), 32TB (16 x 2TB), 48TB (16 x 3TB), 64TB (16 x 4TB), and 96TB (16 x 6TB), as well as three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. Each of these models is equipped with a 3.5 GHz Intel® Core™ i7 Quad-Core processor, 32GB of DDR3 ECC RAM, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, and two 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports that support link aggregation, dual internal SAS expanders, and dual hot-swappable power supply units with four fans. Supported RAID modes include RAID 0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 10, 40, 50, and 60, each of which offers performance, data redundancy, or a combination of both. This unit comes pre-configured as RAID 50, which is also known as RAID 5+0. RAID 50 requires a minimum of six drives and combines the block-level striping of RAID 0 with the distributed parity of RAID 5. The large amounts of storage, combined with the dedicated processing power, RAM, and PCIe expandability make these systems an excellent fit for IT and A/V professionals who need to create a SAN and/or NAS connection with Fibre Channel cards and/or a 10GbE NIC.

JMR Electronics 96TB (16 x 6TB) 3G BlueStor Sixteen-Bay SHARE Network Storage Server

With what sort of expansion systems do you prefer to work? Tell us why in the Comments section, below.

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