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Now we wait for devices to show up

Several years ago when PCI-Express was being developed, the technology was also being designed to support devices outside of the traditional computer enclosure. While "internal" PCI-Express took off, development and support for external devices was slow. This week, the PCI Special Interests Group (PCI-SIG) announced the availability of the PCI-Express external cable specification revision 1.0.

With the new specifications fully defined, cables will be developed for all PCI-Express link widths including: x1, x4, x8 and x16. This allows for devices such as external high-speed storage controllers, network or fabric interfaces and graphics adapters to use the technology.

According to PCI-SIG chairman Al Yanes, external PCI-Express products should now be in full development and show up on the market in less than a year. "This specification helps the industry create new products that will take PCIe technology out of the box – enabling PCIe solutions for IO expansion drawers, external graphics processors, tethered mobile docking, communications equipment and embedded applications,” said Yanes.

External PCI-Express devices will be able to use signaling rates up to 2.5 gigatransfers per second (GT/sec). Of course, the host, adapter and cable must be able to support those speeds, but the future looks promising according to the specification's outline. Later on, 5GT/sec. rates will be possible. Some applications for this type of technology include stacking storage arrays together by using the external PCI-Express interconnect rather than relying on Gig-E networking.

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eSATA + ePCIe = smaller form factors!
By UNCjigga on 2/9/2007 2:04:10 PM , Rating: 2
I just built a Shuttle XPC which I plan on using as my main box now, but the one I got didn't have eSATA ports built-in to the motherboard (I do have a PCIe x1 slot though). Now that there's an external PCIe, we can have even smaller form factors and still maintain flexibility and upgradeability. For example, you can buy an HTPC or SFF with integrated graphics and add an external GPU or physics processor when its time to upgrade. I'm sure this could have applications in the notebook sector as well. Sounds pretty cool to me at least.

RE: eSATA + ePCIe = smaller form factors!
By chinna on 2/9/2007 3:11:51 PM , Rating: 2
This is exactly what I was thinking, it is really great for HTPCs. Now, Manufacturer have options to make thin cases, and users need not compromise with only low profile cards, and expandability is not that much problematic anymore.(Raiser cards are there, but not that popular and not flexible).

One can have quite powerful Graphics card outside the case with just passive cooling.

I see lot of possibilities, hope manufacturers embrace this soon.

By ElJefe69 on 2/12/2007 11:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
Yes exactly what I thought! being a devotee of for years, I have made my gaming machine using one undervolted 120mm fan. If I could remove the video card from the case, I could easily passively or at least near silently cool it. I could get a r600 xtx, rip off the cooling and make it work in a silent setting.

clusters and linux.... one could make a cheap small form factor setup with onboard video, like a 3200 amd64 chip, put that into the cluster for a few hundred dollars... lots of fascinating possibilities. One could make their own google computer :)

By tungtung on 2/9/2007 3:17:50 PM , Rating: 2
Actually what I was thinking was something in the line of the Mac Mini. Just imagine a "lego-ish" pc, so you have the main component and then just buy the part you need and "snap" them together sort of speak. That would probably be one of the best example for "plug-and-play".

So going back to the Mac Mini example, I'm imagining a basic box with the processor, memory and harddisk (small Solid State disc), integrated video, and all the necessary ports for stand-alone operation.

Then after that you have the other "snap-on" components. So you can get a component for the video card, additional storage, sound card, etc. That would be awesome if someone manage to get it "done".

Though the question is how many PCI-E lane can they squeeze in. I mean the way things today, there doesn't seem to be enough PCI-E lanes to go around, especially if you start doing SLI and stuff.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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