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PCI Express: Green Light Ahead

The beginning of the transition to the PCI Express bus was certainly the most anticipated Q2 event in the whole IT industry. On June 21 Intel announced a series of new LGA775 processors as well as three chipsets with support of PCI Express, i925X, i915G, and i915P. For more details see our article called LGA775: New CPUs and Chipsets.

The new chipsets from Intel had no trace of the AGP bus whatsoever. Instead, they offered PCI Express x16 and x1 slots. The use of PCI Express x16 instead of AGP 8x raised the bandwidth of the chipset – graphics card thoroughfare from 2.1GB/s to 8GB/s (4GB/s in each direction). Moreover, the new slot could provide up to 75 watts of power to the graphics card (an additional power connector had had to be put on such cards earlier).

Unfortunately, the expansion rate of the PCI Express platform was rather slow as Intel combined the new chipsets with the new Socket T (not much in terms of mechanical robustness, by the way) as well as with expensive and barely available memory of the DDR2 SDRAM standard. That’s why the manufacturers were not hasty in accepting the new interface, but the situation had become normal by the fourth quarter. Today about 50 percent of new computers are coming with the PCI Express bus.

The second quarter was overall filled with various thrilling events, unlike Q1. We saw the birth of two graphics architectures, the arrival of graphics cards with the PCI Express interface, the official start of Intel’s new platforms that opened a new era in consumer 3D graphics – all in three months!

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