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PCIe 3.0 is Here; PCIe 4.0 Already in the Works

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 46 comments

Tons more bandwidth for future applications.

Last Monday at a morning press conference in Santa Clara, PCI-SIG, the Special Interest Group overseeing the PCI Express standard, officially announced the availability of PCI Express 3.0 products, and stated that work on the PCI Express 4.0 standard has already begun.

PCI-SIG chairman Al Yanes stated that compliance workshops held in April and June included 23 add-in cards and 19 system boards which meet PCI Express 3.0 specifications. Yanes further stated that major products are underway from many PCI-SIG members, including Agilent Technologies, National Semiconductor, PLX Technology, and Tektronix. 

The current PCI Express 2.1 standard enables a speed of 500 MB/s per lane, in each direction.  Thus, the 16 lane connection commonly used for PCI Express graphics cards currently has a transfer speed of 8 GB/s.  The PCI Express 3.0 standard will double the above transfer rates, enabling a speed of 1 GB/s per lane, or 16 GB/s for a 16 lane connection.

Despite the announcement of PCI Express 3.0 products, the biggest news came in the form of two additional announcements:  A “Cable Workgroup” has been established to create a new cable standard, possibly with the intention of competing with Intel’s proprietary Thunderbolt technology.  Also, early work on the PCI Express 4.0 standard has already begun.

Al Yanes stated that the cabling technology will have a goal of 20 inch cables for use with servers, 14 inch cables for use with desktops, and 10 inch cables for use with mobile devices.  The cable is initially expected to push the limits of copper wire technology, but the door is being left open to include optical technology. Yanes stated “We have crossed every bridge we have come to… but we don’t want to rest on our laurels”.

Intel has been non-committal as to whether it will license Thunderbolt to PCI Express add-on card developers.  The technology is certainly feasible: a four lane PCI Express 3.0 connection slot, operating at a speed of 4 GB/s (or 32 Gigabits per second), could easily host a 10 Megabit per second Thunderbolt PCI Express add-on card. However, Intel spokesman Dave Salvator told us recently, “There are no plans to do a Thunderbolt expansion card at this time.”  This could mean that Intel plans to license Thunderbolt only as a motherboard feature, not as an add-on card feature.  It’s certainly feasible that Intel’s plans are what has lead PCI-SIG to decide to develop their own new cabling technology.

As for PCI Express 4.0, PCI-SIG is confident that they’ll be able to once again double transfer speeds when the technology is introduced.  Historically, the development of a new PCI Express standard occurs about once every four years, and PCI-SIG stated that the “4 year sequence” would likely continue to be the expected development period.

PCI Express 3.0 technology is expected to be used to power InfiniBand, Ethernet 40G/100G, ultra high speed Solid State Drives, and, of course, high end graphics cards.      

Discuss
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Top Comments
  • 10 Hide
    warmon6 , June 28, 2011 5:40 PM
    So is every one happy now that the three 3's are all officially out? :p  Usb 3.0, Sata III (6gb/s), and (finally) PCI-e 3.0.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    amk09 , June 28, 2011 5:19 PM
    Sweet can't wait to get me a mobo/graphics card that supports PCIe 3.0
  • 4 Hide
    mobrocket , June 28, 2011 5:22 PM
    good job... and a standard that makes sense...
  • 5 Hide
    Soma42 , June 28, 2011 5:24 PM
    now just to get a video card that uses all of the PCIe 3.0...
  • 6 Hide
    zorky9 , June 28, 2011 5:26 PM
    soma42now just to get a video card that uses all of the PCIe 3.0...

    ... and a CPU to handle all the bandwidth.

    I'll wait for Ivy Bridge and mobo/GPU with PCIe 3.0 for my next upgrade.
  • 9 Hide
    claec , June 28, 2011 5:32 PM
    Quote:
    Intel has been non-committal as to whether it will license Thunderbolt to PCI Express add-on card developers. The technology is certainly feasible: a four lane PCI Express 3.0 connection slot, operating at a speed of 4 GB/s (or 32 Gigabits per second), could easily host a 10 Megabit per second Thunderbolt PCI Express add-on card.


    Is that supposed to be 10 GIGAbits per second for the Thunderbolt?
  • 10 Hide
    warmon6 , June 28, 2011 5:40 PM
    So is every one happy now that the three 3's are all officially out? :p  Usb 3.0, Sata III (6gb/s), and (finally) PCI-e 3.0.
  • 9 Hide
    Netherscourge , June 28, 2011 5:59 PM
    Has PCI-e 2.0 been maxed out yet, in everyday desktop application?

  • 0 Hide
    utengineer , June 28, 2011 5:59 PM
    warmon6So is every one happy now that the three 3's are all officially out? Usb 3.0, Sata III (6gb/s), and (finally) PCI-e 3.0.


    Yes, Rainman is happy now ;) 
  • 4 Hide
    RazberyBandit , June 28, 2011 6:23 PM
    If board makers would flat-out drop 2.0 and fully adopt 2.1, video cards that require 2 x 6-pin (or 1 x 6-pin + 1 x 6+2-pin) would be a thing of the past because the motherboard could actually supply 150W through the PCIe slot itself.

    PCIe technology is evolving faster than manufacturers seem willing to adopt it.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , June 28, 2011 6:25 PM
    NetherscourgeHas PCI-e 2.0 been maxed out yet, in everyday desktop application?

    nope? loll
  • 3 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , June 28, 2011 6:28 PM
    NetherscourgeHas PCI-e 2.0 been maxed out yet, in everyday desktop application?


    Nope. Not even gpu's are maxed out with pci-e 2.0
  • 2 Hide
    feeddagoat , June 28, 2011 6:28 PM
    Very nice, tho current lanes aren't saturated yet. Even so technology marches on! Anyone know if the new spec will also include higher power delivery specs considering some GPU's are breaking the current one?
  • 9 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , June 28, 2011 6:47 PM
    PCIe 3.0 is Here; PCIe 4.0 Already in the Works; PCIe 2.0 Still Not Taken Advantage of.
  • 3 Hide
    utengineer , June 28, 2011 6:51 PM
    NetherscourgeHas PCI-e 2.0 been maxed out yet, in everyday desktop application?


    Yes, if you are looking at enterprise solutions which outweigh the high end GPU market. HBA and NIC tech is pushing the limits and creating a demand for more I/O and bandwidth.
  • 3 Hide
    huron , June 28, 2011 6:51 PM
    It's not that I don't agree that pushing the standard is a good thing, but the fact that we can't even saturate the current interface makes this a lot less exciting.

    It seems like the closest things we'll get will be the extreme SSDs that are essentially drives on the expansion slot (doesn't OCZ have one now?)
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 28, 2011 7:41 PM
    Below is an exert by "Another DimWit" From the toms hardware forums. Thought it might be interesting to share.

    "PCIe 2.0 delivers 5 GT/s, but employs an 8b/10b encoding scheme which results in a 20 percent ((10-8)/10) overhead on the raw bit rate. PCIe 3.0 removes the requirement for 8b/10b encoding and instead uses a technique called "scrambling" in which "a known binary polynomial is applied to a data stream in a feedback topology. Because the scrambling polynomial is known, the data can be recovered by running it through a feedback topology using the inverse polynomial and also uses a 128b/130b ((130-128)/130)encoding scheme, reducing the overhead to approximately 1.5%, as opposed to the 20% overhead of 8b/10b encoding used by PCIe 2.0. PCIe 3.0's 8 GT/s bit rate effectively delivers double PCIe 2.0 bandwidth"
  • 3 Hide
    mcd023 , June 28, 2011 7:50 PM
    am I the only one that hasn't really seen any thunderbolt products?
  • 3 Hide
    proxy711 , June 28, 2011 8:25 PM
    someguynamedmattPCIe 3.0 is Here; PCIe 4.0 Already in the Works; PCIe 2.0 Still Not Taken Advantage of.

    Id rather them be way ahead of the game then behind and have issues.
  • 0 Hide
    drwho1 , June 28, 2011 8:34 PM
    I'm wondering... Will manufactures find the "need" to develop and promote the use of SLI/CrossFire? At this speeds on this article, I just can't see why.
  • 1 Hide
    iamtheking123 , June 28, 2011 9:17 PM
    drwho1I'm wondering... Will manufactures find the "need" to develop and promote the use of SLI/CrossFire? At this speeds on this article, I just can't see why.

    I think you're confused. The reason you don't see faster video cards isn't because they max out the x16 slot. In fact, most cards won't even max the x8 slots.
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