PCIe connectors  (Source: IBM)
New spec offers much higher bandwidth

PCI Express brought us much better performance for all sorts of add-in cards including better graphics bandwidth. Not too long after the original PCIe specification surfaced, we got the 2.0 update that brought along even better performance, again helping gamers looking for the best in video card speed.

The PCI-SIG has announced another update to the specification with the unveiling of PCI Express 3.0 specification. The base spec for PCI Express 3.0 is now available to all members of the PCI-SIG. The spec is a low-cost, high-performance I/O technology that has a 128b/130b encoding scheme and a data rate of 8 gigatransfers per second (GT/s). That is double the available interconnect bandwidth of PCIe 2.0.

The PCIe spec is also backwards compatible with all earlier PCIe specs to maintain compatibility with add-in cards on the market with new mainboards. The original PCIe specification supported 2.5GT/s and PCIe 2.0 supported 5GT/s. The PCIe 3.0 spec's 8 GT/s is sure to usher in more improvements in graphics processing.

The PCI-SIG says that a x1 PCIe 3.0 slot is capable of 1GB/s transfer rate, and that transfer rate scales up to 32GB/s on a x16 lane. You can bet once the new specification is available on mainboards we will see lots of video cards supporting it hit market.

“Each new version of the PCIe spec has doubled the bandwidth of the prior generation,” said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. “The latest group of PCIe architects and designers drove the standard forward while maintaining complete backward compatibility for Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices. Rarely has a standard advanced so non-disruptively through three major evolutionary cycles. The ability to pull this off demonstrates not only the ingenuity of the Gen 3 developers, but also the insight of those who defined the earlier versions in such an extensible manner.”

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