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PCI Express 2.0 nears completion

The PCI-SIG (Special Interest Group) has just released a new revision of the PCI Express Base 2.0 specification to its member companies for testing

The PCI-SIG (Special Interest Group) has just released a new revision of the PCI Express Base 2.0 specification to its member companies for testing. The latest version (0.9) is the last incarnation before the final specification of the new high-speed PCI-E bus is published and made available for wide-scale use.

The SIG is a non-profit electronics consortium responsible for specifying the Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) buses. These buses are used on computer motherboards and allow expansion cards to function with the other components inside the machine. Some of the SIG’s member companies are ATi, Intel, IBM, nVidia and Microsoft.

The latest revision has been in development for three years and is designed to better meet the demands of graphics companies. Version 2.0 offers faster signaling rates of 5Gbits/sec, as opposed to just 2.5Gbits/sec offered by the older version. This means graphics cards can communicate with a PC’s other components (such as the CPU) more quickly thanks to the added bandwidth, which will mean faster overall graphics performance.

According to the PCI-SIG, the new bus will also be cheaper to implement as it uses fewer ‘electrical lanes’. (Current PCI-E 1.1 bus links with eight lanes provide a total bandwidth of 4Gbytes/sec whereas the upcoming 2.0 specification will make it possible to achieve 5Gbytes/sec using only four lanes. This means motherboards could become cheaper to produce and thus retail for less.)

The PCI Express 2.0 specification also allows for more power to be supplied to the graphics card via the PCI-E slot itself. Currently a maximum of 150W can be supplied to a graphics card over the slot and thus graphics cards that require more power must be connected to a PC’s power supply via a 6-pin PCI-E power connector. The new specification raises the bar to 225W or even 300W, meaning high-end graphics cards will be able to operate without requiring the use of a supplementary 6-pin power connector.

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