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2013 Apple Mac Pro: Connecting eSATA via Thunderbolt

In yesterday’s Thoughts on a Switchover from Existing Tower, I detailed the challenges of connecting a variety of peripherals to the 2013 Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro has no internal bays and only four USB3 ports (and at least two of the use ports are needed for other things). This creates a connectivity problem for those with existing eSATA and SAS/MiniSAS gear: buying all new gear is not attractive; hooking up existing gear is a much more acceptable route.

FirmTek hints at a Thunderbolt to eSATA solution. As I have a five FirmTek eSATA enclosures (dual bay and quad bay) and a FirmTek SeriTek 2ME4-E 4-port eSATA card, this is welcome news.

Details are unclear, but if the “future Thunderbolt product” is essentiallly a four or six port eSATA brick, this solves a lot of issues for me. Unclear is whether the solution is generic (probably is) and so whether it would work in general with any eSATA device.

FirmTek says:

Users can switch over with their existing PCIe FirmTek cards (SeriTek/2ME4, SeriTek/6G or SeriTek/Q6G) as well as the enclosures. There are no reasons to toss away existing gear.

Of course, the ideal (expensive) solution is a “case swap” to eliminate eSATA from the loop entirely: remove existing drives from an eSATA case, install into a Thunderbolt case. But that’s a larger ticket swap for every such device, and build quality, fan noise and even availability without drives are all issues.

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