Thunderbolt into PCI-e does go...

Thunderbolt expansion with PCIs cards can be done

With the likes of ProTools and MediaComposer long being a strong hold of professionals using Mac workstations the loss of the MacPro with PCIe slots was a bit of an inconvenience to say the least.

The obvious thing is to look for Thunderbolt devices such as storage arrays and I/O cards but these all appear to come in somewhat over priced  by the simple virtue of having a Thunderbolt connector. 

The alternative is by long standing expansion chassis company Magma and Sonnet. Since the Expansion chassis was needed for Macs in the late 90's and early 00's Magma have been the obvious choice, and for Thunder bolt expansion they apparently still are, though Sonnet do offer a very compelling range with the Echo Express SE II Desktop having a particularly attractive price.

So if you wanted to build a ProTools rig on either the new MacPro or MacMini then you need to be able to house a PT Interface Card and perhaps a video I/O card such as a DeckLink card.

Magma has 2 ranges to offer. A desktop version and a 19" rack mount version. The ExpressBox is the desk top version offering versions able to handle either 1 or 3 PCIe cards. The Roben range offers units that supports 3 PCIe cards, a chassis that can contain both the cards and a MacMini within a single unit and another that can house 3 PCIe cards and 8x 2.5" drive bays.

Avid qualified Thunderbolt chassis 
While ProTools and Avid are obvious systems to see how this helps with systems I'm sure this will lend itself to the likes of SMAC system (Smoke on Mac) but I'm not sure if these have been ratified by Autodesk or have even been tried.

I write about Magma as I have recent experience of the ROBEN-3TM which is the unit that houses both cards and MacMini and I have to say, my issue with this particular unit is that the MacMini, which  when pushed hard runs hot and loud anyway, can become VERY loud when in the chassis and if you plan to have the unit in the room with you, I would think twice and ensure you have good cooling! I haven't played with the desktop version and so sadly can't comment on the noise these units generate, but would like to know what others have experienced,

With the easy availability of PCI-e Thunderbolt 1 and 2 cards for PCs it'll be interesting to see how Thunderbolt will be used on the Windows Platform and where this takes Thunderbolt devices