Add 3 PCI Slots & 5 Drive Bays To Your PowerMac

We visited with Mobility Electronics to see their PCI Expansion chassis called EasiExpansion T35. This is a product that allows you to add 4 PCI slots (a net gain of 3), 5 drive bays, and 2 USB ports to your PCI PowerMac. The product includes a tower enclosure and a PCI card that the user plugs into their motherboard. Utilizing their proprietary technology called Serialized PCI Split Bridge Technology, the company has includes half the chipset on the PCI card, and half in the expansion chassis itself. Klaus Muerzl, Product Manager for the T35, told the Mac Observer that this design allows your Mac to treat the expansion chassis as if it is simply a part of the motherboard.

Mr. Muerzl also tells us that the design allows most PCI cards to perform without a noticeable performance slow down. We have not yet tested the device and can not yet verify that. As the design effectively puts all devices in the chassis through one PCI slot, there would certainly be configurations where performance issues could come into play.

Mobility Electronics came to the Mac market by chance. The company has built itself by providing docking stations for Wintel laptops. these docking stations allow laptop users to have video cards, extra drives, and other PCI devices at their home or office while preserving the mobility of the laptop itself. Mr. Muerzl says that when they heard of the need for PCI expandability in the Mac market, they simply tried their product on the Mac and found that it worked.

You can find more information on the T35 at the EasiDock Web site. The T35 is priced at US$599 and is shipping now.

The Mac Observer Spin: Expansion slots are a hot topic with many Mac users, especially in the high end publishing and film markets. Appleis stance since ending the PowerMac 8600 and 9600 models is that users who need more slots can get an expansion chassis of some sort. Most of those offering have been priced high enough to be a deterrent to many users. At US$599, the T35 is priced at a low enough price point to be in range of many of those same people. While not all PCI cards would be appropriate for this solution, it will be a great solution for lots of folks. Note that the inclusion of another 3 PCI slots would probably push the price of a PowerMac by somewhere in between US$400 and US$700.