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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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competition with usb, firewire, and (e)sata
By hellokeith on 2/9/2007 2:05:42 PM , Rating: 2
While I understand the motivation behind this spec, do we really need another cable type?

I just don't have a good feeling about external video cards, and as far as storage is concerned, this would be in direct competition with SATA and eSATA.

By UNCjigga on 2/9/2007 2:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Dude, external PCIe could be up to 100x faster than eSATA. When they say "useful for storage", they're talking network storage, as in mass arrays sitting in a datacenter somewhere.

A really cool (and wicked expensive) use for this tech is an external NAND flash memory RAID 5 array using multiple PCIe to SATA300 bridges (each drive has a dedicated SATA300 channel!) That would be all kinds of fast.

RE: competition with usb, firewire, and (e)sata
By RyanHirst on 2/9/2007 2:46:19 PM , Rating: 3
An application you might not have thought about:

Computer clusters.
I mean, holy crap! Can you imagine what this would mean for the Folding@Home project? With direct x16 cables, a group of cheap, identical computers is a massively parallel SMP box.

There are also server/enterprise applications. I'm guessing a company like Google wouldn't mind cheap, standardized NAS cabling at PCIe x16, either.

By ADDAvenger on 2/9/2007 10:39:41 PM , Rating: 2
Heyyyy, that would be amazing for F@H, although I'm sure it'd take forever for them to get a client out for that...

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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