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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...

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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