There’s no doubt the new Mac Pro is an impressive engineering feat. Packing workstation-class processors and dual workstation GPUs into a small device without any performance compromises is quite a technical accomplishment. If you never really used the internal PCIe expansion slots on the old Mac Pro tower, you will be well served by the new Thunderbolt-based Mac Pro. However, this radical new design doesn’t cater to everyone, especially those needing to integrate into a studio or server environment that requires PCIe expansion for more than just dual-GPUs. If that sounds like you, then Sonnet is hoping you take a look at their new xMac Pro Server.
The xMac Pro Server is a peculiar device with a dedicated mounting “cocoon,” which holds the New Mac Pro firmly in place—while still allowing for adequate cooling. The xMac Pro also conveniently passes all of the Mac Pro’s connectors. It puts one USB 3.0 port on the front for easy access for peripherals. The rest, including three more USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, and two gigabit Ethernet ports, are available on the rear. The Thunderbolt 2 ports on the inserted Mac Pro are used exclusively for PCIe card slots on the rear of the xMac Pro, so there are no additional Thunderbolt 2 ports found on the enclosure.
"The xMac Pro Server essentially transforms a new Mac Pro into a rack-mountable workstation computer..."
The xMac Pro Server essentially transforms a new Mac Pro into a rack-mountable workstation computer, with three open PCIe slots linked to three of the Thunderbolt 2 ports on the new Mac Pro. While the new Mac Pro has six Thunderbolt 2 ports, they share three controllers, making three the ideal number of PCIe slots to ensure each card gets the full 20Gb/s bandwidth of Thunderbolt 2. This is expressly helpful for users utilizing render cards like the Red Rocket or capture cards like the BlueFish 444 line. The xMac Pro Server even features BNC cutouts in the chassis for the BNC outputs of the Red Rocket card. Users who need to integrate the new Mac Pro into fibre RAID systems that require a PCIe host card will also be well served by the xMac Pro Server. A full list of PCIe cards the xMac Pro Server officially supports can be found here. Also, the xMac Pro Server has room for optical drives, card readers, and additional internal disk or solid-state drives via two 5.25" bays, with the inclusion of the optional Mobile Rack Device Mounting Kit.
The Xmac Pro has a 300-watt power supply for the PCIe cards, and has two 8x length slots and one 16x length PCIe 2.0 slot. For power-hungry PCIe cards, an additional 75W 6-pin power cable is also inside. The whole unit takes up four rack spaces and is 16" deep. Sonnet claims it will operate quietly, thanks to its temperature-controlled fans. Plus, the xMac Pro Server is backed up with a pretty impressive five-year warranty.
Rube Goldberg is alive and well.