Sonnet introduces McFiver PCIe card with 10-gig ethernet, USB-C, SSD slots

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The new Sonnet McFiver brings internal SSD storage, 10 Gigabit Ethernet, 10Gbps USB-C, and two SSD slots for high-speed storage in a single PCIe card for the Mac Pro or any Mac with an PCI-E enclosure.




Sonnet has long provided systems with PCIe slots, and computer adapter cards, but now the new McFiver offers five interfaces in a single full-height PCIe card that requires no external power.

"For most creators, the ability to move files quickly -- whether to or from onboard storage, across a network, or to or from external drives -- can be critical to their workflows," says the company in a statement. "While individual adapter cards may offer the capability to speed up one part of the workflow, installing three adapter cards to get all the interfaces a user needs may not be feasible, even in computers with multiple expansion card slots."

The five interfaces in the McFiver are:
  • 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE)

  • Two 10 gigabit per second USB-C ports

  • Two slots for single- or double-sided M.2 NVMe 2280 PCIe SSDs
Note that the SSDs are sold separately, and Sonnet says up to 16TB total SSD storage can be installed on the card. It uses an x8 PCIe 3.0 bridge chip, so does not require specific SSDs, nor PCIe bifurcation to support RAID features.

When placed directly into a system such as a Mac Pro, using its PCIe 3.0 or 4.0 card slot, Sonnet claims that "a single NVMe PCIe SSD installed on the card can deliver data transfers up to 3,400 MB/s."

For every other Mac, and any computer that has no PCIe card slots, the McFiver can be installed in a separate Sonnet system, or a leftover eGPU enclosure. The company's Echo Thunderbolt to PCIe card expansion system brings "the McFiver card's interfaces through a single cable" to the Mac Studio, MacBook Pro, iMac, and more. Total bandwidth available to the card will be limited by Thunderbolt speeds.

The McFiver will be available from Sonnet from the second week of June. It will retail for $399.99.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    Who would ever buy this? Can't be many Mac Pro users who need more 10GbE ports, or more USB-C. SSD PCIe cards are cheap and available. And if you are going thunderbolt, it'll be cheaper to get an SSD-supporting dock- like Sonnet's with 2x SSD slots for $350. Probably no more expensive to get *two* docks, in case you need the 2x ssds and the 10GbE. And that way you have the option of using independent TB links, for more total bandwidth.

    I'm sure they did this for a reason, they're not stupid. So... what is it??
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 5
    Wow, this would have been a dream card for my Mac Pro 5,1s four years ago when I was still putting money into them. I currently have all 3 of those cards filling up all my PCIe slots - 10GbE, USB 3.2, NVMe. Although the Sonnet’s x8 PCIe connection would limit the bandwidth on the MP 5,1’s PCIe 2.0 bus.

    It was definitely not designed for the old old Mac Pro but rather as a budget option for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures to upgrade Mac Minis etc without taking up all their TB ports, and for PCs with few PCIe slots available. On the PC side this could give new life to a lot of older machines that don’t have Thunderbolt ports for a TB dock. Like the old HP mini tower I tinkered with turning into a TrueNAS 10GbE server. Really cool combination of useful upgrades in one card for a pretty reasonable price actually! I only wish they’d given it a x16 PCIe connection for maximum speed with older PCIe 2.0 machines.
    edited May 27 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 5
    ciacia Posts: 178member
    Wow, this would have been a dream card for my Mac Pro 5,1s four years ago when I was still putting money into them. I currently have all 3 of those cards filling up all my PCIe slots - 10GbE, USB 3.2, NVMe. Although the Sonnet’s x8 PCIe connection would limit the bandwidth on the MP 5,1’s PCIe 2.0 bus.

    It was definitely not designed for the old old Mac Pro but rather as a budget option for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures to upgrade Mac Minis etc without taking up all their TB ports, and for PCs with few PCIe slots available. On the PC side this could give new life to a lot of older machines that don’t have Thunderbolt ports for a TB dock. Like the old HP mini tower I tinkered with turning into a TrueNAS 10GbE server. Really cool combination of useful upgrades in one card for a pretty reasonable price actually! I only wish they’d given it a x16 PCIe connection for maximum speed with older PCIe 2.0 machines.
    Amen to that.  This card would have been incredible in 2015-2016 for my old 5,1.  Yes about the limited bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 though.   Perhaps a version with just the NVMe slots and 10Gbe port wouldn't be bottlenecked too bad.  Back then (and even now really) I could survive without the USB C ports.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 5
    Wow, this would have been a dream card for my Mac Pro 5,1s four years ago when I was still putting money into them. I currently have all 3 of those cards filling up all my PCIe slots - 10GbE, USB 3.2, NVMe. Although the Sonnet’s x8 PCIe connection would limit the bandwidth on the MP 5,1’s PCIe 2.0 bus.

    It was definitely not designed for the old old Mac Pro but rather as a budget option for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures to upgrade Mac Minis etc without taking up all their TB ports, and for PCs with few PCIe slots available. On the PC side this could give new life to a lot of older machines that don’t have Thunderbolt ports for a TB dock. Like the old HP mini tower I tinkered with turning into a TrueNAS 10GbE server. Really cool combination of useful upgrades in one card for a pretty reasonable price actually! I only wish they’d given it a x16 PCIe connection for maximum speed with older PCIe 2.0 machines.
    Perhaps they were made for small PCs. The "budgetoption for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures" makes zero sense, as I pointed out. Unless, maybe, you already have one for graphics and are giving up on that. Hm. Is that market big enough to matter?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 5
    zimmiezimmie Posts: 599member
    Wow, this would have been a dream card for my Mac Pro 5,1s four years ago when I was still putting money into them. I currently have all 3 of those cards filling up all my PCIe slots - 10GbE, USB 3.2, NVMe. Although the Sonnet’s x8 PCIe connection would limit the bandwidth on the MP 5,1’s PCIe 2.0 bus.

    It was definitely not designed for the old old Mac Pro but rather as a budget option for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures to upgrade Mac Minis etc without taking up all their TB ports, and for PCs with few PCIe slots available. On the PC side this could give new life to a lot of older machines that don’t have Thunderbolt ports for a TB dock. Like the old HP mini tower I tinkered with turning into a TrueNAS 10GbE server. Really cool combination of useful upgrades in one card for a pretty reasonable price actually! I only wish they’d given it a x16 PCIe connection for maximum speed with older PCIe 2.0 machines.
    Perhaps they were made for small PCs. The "budgetoption for single-slot Thunderbolt enclosures" makes zero sense, as I pointed out. Unless, maybe, you already have one for graphics and are giving up on that. Hm. Is that market big enough to matter?
    This doesn't appear to use any custom chips or firmware. Looks like it's a standard PCIe switch, a standard dual-port USB 3.2 2x2 controller, a standard NBase-T Ethernet controller, and eight lanes routed to two NVMe slots. Custom board design, custom assembly workflow, but those are both really easy. I've personally made cards more complicated than this one.

    There are board assembly houses which basically do for circuit boards what print-on-demand companies do for books. They're more expensive per-unit than a bulk order of a thousand units, but you don't have to deal with inventory. At that point, addressable market size doesn't matter all that much.
    edited May 27 watto_cobra
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