PCIe 3.0 Specification Coming Soon

Wednesday May 5th 2010 by Paul Shread
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The PCI Express 3.0 specification will finally be released in the third quarter, but don't expect products for another year or so.

The PCI Express 3.0 specification is expected to be finalized in the third quarter, according to PCI-SIG, the organization in charge of the interconnect standard.

The PCIe 3.0 spec was initially expected to be released last year, then the date was moved to the second quarter of 2010. Now it appears to be on track for third-quarter release, with products appearing a year after that, according to a PCI-SIG spokesperson.

"The PCIe 3.0 specification technical due diligence and PCI-SIG member reviews are on track for completion this summer," the spokesperson said. "We envision final publication will occur in Q3 2010."

PCIe 3.0 is critical for data storage users because 6 Gb/s SAS and 8 Gb/s Fibre Channel can quickly saturate PCIe 2.0 connections, and PCIe 2.0 won't be able to keep up with the next generation of storage speeds.

The spec was held up because of the difficulty of achieving backward compatibility with PCIe 1.0 and 2.0. PCIe 1.0 and 2.0 support 8-bit and 10-bit encoding, while the PCIe 3.0 architecture introduces a new 128-bit/130-bit encoding scheme. PCIe 1.0 operates at 2.5 Gigatransfers per second, 2.0 at 5 GT/s, and 3.0 at 8 GT/s.

"8G products that are implemented to the PCIe 3.0 architecture will support both encoding schemes to ensure backwards compatibility," the spokesperson said. "Independent technology pathfinding studies performed by some PCI-SIG member companies have shown the potential feasibility of this approach."

AMD, Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, LSI, Microsoft, NVIDIA and Oracle are among the companies represented on PCI-SIG's board of directors.

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