Do you have the computing horsepower you need? XMac Mini Server expansion system


Greg LaPorte TV-Bay Magazine
Read ezine online
by Greg LaPorte
Issue 80 - August 2013
In high-pressure audio/video production environments, adequate computing horsepower is critical for handling the volume of tracks and channels to be recorded, played back, mixed, edited and streamed. The Apple® Mac Pro® offers great performance and extensibility but its heavy, bulky tower configuration doesnt lend itself to mobile use or space-constrained environments, nor for rack mounting. The extreme opposite in form factor, the Mac® mini offers amazingly good performance in a highly portable form factor and at a fraction of the cost of a Mac Pro, plus it includes Thunderbolt¢ technology. But, for most professionals, the Mac minis extra-small footprint and lack of PCIe expansion slots limits its functionality and connectivity.

Sonnet Technologies has bridged the gap between the Mac Pros extensibility and the Mac minis portability with its xMac¢ mini Server, a Thunderbolt-to-PCIe 2.0 expansion system and 1U rackmount enclosure that securely holds the Mac mini in place, adds two onboard PCIe expansion slots which connect to the computers Thunderbolt port, and provides an additional port on the chassis to enable daisy chaining of other Thunderbolt devices. The xMac mini Server enables A/V professionals to rack-mount a Mac mini where it can be easily cabled and extended with Thunderbolt connectivity.

One such professional is renowned audio engineer Hugh Healy, who provides audio workstation solutions for numerous high-profile live television productions most recently NBCs The Voice. Healy has designed and used an audio workstation with the xMac mini Server and an RME HDSPe MADI FX card providing three MADI inputs and outputs for a total of 390 channels available for recording and playback. Thats a tremendous amount of audio I/O, and its a great example of how were able to take advantage of the Mac minis outstanding performance in an audio workflow, Healy said.
The xMac mini Server is not just for mobile and on-location productions, but for studio use, too a perfect example is the Tampa Bay Arts and Education (TBAE) Network. TBAEs Tampa Bay Education Channel and Tampa Bay Arts Channel reach over 300,000 viewers in the Tampa, Fla. area. G. Scott Maiden, TBAEs Director of Broadcast Operations and Engineering, recently enlisted Sonnet partner Softron Media Services to upgrade the networks master control automation capabilities. The project required rack-mountable solutions, as well as the ability to leverage Blackmagic Designs two-channel DeckLink capture and playback cards connected to Mac mini computer via Thunderbolt. Softrons On the Air Node playout and scheduling software works with the Mac mini and the DeckLink card, connected via Thunderbolt through the xMac mini Server, and two Promise Technology RAID arrays. To broadcast multiple video streams and ingest video simultaneously, we require speed and performance that only Thunderbolt can deliver, said Maiden. The xMac mini Server is the only solution that could support multi-channel playback while at the same time enabling us to take advantage of low-cost Thunderbolt-enabled Mac mini solutions.

Sonnet reseller Chip Pettit, a professional audio engineer and broadcast systems integrator based in North Carolina, has built a cloud-based broadcast service offering that includes a Mac mini housed in an xMac mini server with the ToolsOnAir TV Station in a Mac solution, the just: Broadcast Suite. One of Pettits clients is a media company using the 24/7 cloud playout solution to support its newly launched IP channel for content delivery to smartphones, tablets, and other OTT platforms. The xMac mini Server has afforded us a unique opportunity to provide a blended playout solution in the cloud thats very fast and easy to deploy, Pettit said. Our customers can benefit from channel-in-a-box functionality at a much lower cost than if they were to install these systems on their premises, and they also get engineering support from our team.


Tags: iss080 | sonnet | mac mini | server | thunderbolt | expansion system | review | hugh healy | studio | tampa bay | Greg LaPorte
Contributing Author Greg LaPorte

Read this article in the tv-bay digital magazine
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  • Metus at IBC 2014

    Metus at IBC 2014

  • ChyronHego Metacast at IBC 2014

    ChyronHego Metacast at IBC 2014

  • ChyronHego Lyric PRO at IBC 2014

    ChyronHego Lyric PRO at IBC 2014

  • Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

    Sonys new cameras at IBC 2014 - including the FS7

  • Tally Technologies at BVE 2014

    Tally Technologies at BVE 2014

  • Autoscript at IBC2011

    Autoscript at IBC2011

  • Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

    Blackmagic ATEM Television Studio Pro 4K at NAB 2018

  • Broadcast Bionics show the Bionics Studio at BVE 2018

    Broadcast Bionics show the Bionics Studio at BVE 2018

  • Glyph External Storage including the Studio and Atom raid at IBC 2017

    Glyph External Storage including the Studio and Atom raid at IBC 2017

  • ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

    ATEM TV Studio Pro HD from Blackmagic Design at NAB 2017

  • The Media Experience Studio from Verizon at NAB 2017

    The Media Experience Studio from Verizon at NAB 2017

  • Infinity Arm - Matthews Studio Equipment at NAB 2016

    Infinity Arm - Matthews Studio Equipment at NAB 2016

  • CHYRONHEGO STUDIO MEDIAMAKER at NAB2015

    CHYRONHEGO STUDIO MEDIAMAKER at NAB2015

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic Studio Camera at NAB 2014

  • Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

    Studio Technologies at NAB 2012

  • Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

    Combo Live 55 Pedestal from Miller at NAB 2017

  • JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

    JVC GY-HM850 and GY-HM650 at NAB 2014

  • Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

    Blackmagic URSA at NAB 2014

  • Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

    Cintel Film Scanner: Blackmagic Design at NAB 2014

  • Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

    Brainstorm Multimedia at NAB 2014

  • aQ Broadcast Production Suite at BVE 2014

    aQ Broadcast Production Suite at BVE 2014

  • Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

    Projects Department on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC

  • Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

    Brainstorm on BroadcastShow LIVE at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

    TSL Products PAM1, SAM1 and PAM PiCo at IBC 2013

  • TSL Products at IBC 2013

    TSL Products at IBC 2013

  • Zylight LED Fresnel at IBC 2013

    Zylight LED Fresnel at IBC 2013

  • Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

    Blackmagic Design with the new ATEM Production Suite at IBC 2013

  • TSL Systems at BVE 2013

    TSL Systems at BVE 2013

  • Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

    Guntermann and Drunck GmbH at BVE 2013

  • Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

    Vinten Radamec at NAB 2012

  • Clear-Com Tempest at NAB 2012

    Clear-Com Tempest at NAB 2012

  • Sonifex at BVE 2012

    Sonifex at BVE 2012

  • Xpertia at BVE 2012

    Xpertia at BVE 2012

  • Blackmagic at IBC2011

    Blackmagic at IBC2011


Related Shows
  • Pixel Power in the KITPLUS studio at BVE

    Pixel Power in the KITPLUS studio at BVE


Articles
The Biggest Toy Shop in the World
Emma Morrison When Nigel Woodford started his career at BBC Wood Norton in 1962, television was black and white and BBC Two had not yet been launched. In 2018 Nigel will retire, and Richmond Film Services, the pro-audio equipment rental company set up by Nigel in 1973, can count numerous contributions to iconic moments in British cultural, sporting and film history over this time.
Tags: iss133 | richmond film services | audio rental | auction | liquidity | go-dove | Emma Morrison
Contributing Author Emma Morrison Click to read or download PDF
How todays technology platforms can make AMAZING seem mundane
Bruce Devlin - new Some things never change. It's September and it's time for another IBC. Maybe I'm getting old and maybe I have selective memory about the past, but recently there hasn't been the buzz of years gone by. Sure, as you wander around the vast halls there will be lots of enthusiastic sales people trying to give you the best demo possible, but something has changed and to survive, I believe that vendors and customers need to change too.
Tags: iss133 | ibc | class | vulture | imf user group | Bruce Devlin - new
Contributing Author Bruce Devlin - new Click to read or download PDF
Fast-moving productions need multi-cam RF reliability
Darren Bilton Wireless acquisition creates a level of freedom not possible with any other form of filming yet only a decade ago the technique was barely possible. The technology enabling live real-time connections over radio frequencies has advanced leaps and bounds such that there is barely an entertainment, documentary, sports or news format today that doesn’t benefit from at least one link system. That means the demands on the kit continues to rise and includes the need for fail safe multi-camera operation, ease of use and backwards compatibility all within a small, lightweight and budget-friendly package.
Tags: iss133 | boxx tv | wireless | mpeg-4 | multicam | rf | multi-cam | Darren Bilton
Contributing Author Darren Bilton Click to read or download PDF
What is next in OTT
Mary Kay Evans In the past year alone, we’ve seen a substantial increase in the amount of OTT content that’s being streamed. In the first quarter of 2018, there’s been a 114 percent year-over-year growth in streaming video hours, and those numbers are only expected to rise. With OTT revenue predicted to reach $16.6B in 2018, a 40% gain over last year, there’s no question that OTT is booming, and that there’s never been a more critical time to pay attention to the space.
Tags: iss133 | ott | verizon | cisco | Mary Kay Evans
Contributing Author Mary Kay Evans Click to read or download PDF
Ride along on the Tour de Tech at IBC
Lorna Garrett Finding your way through the halls and aisles of the massive IBC can feel a bit like attempting to complete all 21 stages of the Tour de France — but in far fewer days. But have no fear; your team at Garland is all geared up and ready to show you the best on show at this year's exhibition.
Tags: iss133 | garland | liveu | lu600 | media excel | teracue | wisi | broadcast wireless systems | bws | artel | ibc | Lorna Garrett
Contributing Author Lorna Garrett Click to read or download PDF