PCI Express special interest group (PCI-SIG), the organization responsible for the widely adopted PCI Express (PCIe) industry-standard input/output (I/O) technology, on Wednesday said it turned twenty years old and announced key new technologies that are in development now. Besides PCI Express 4.0 (16Gb/s) and PCIe 3.0-storage, PCI-SIG members are now designing a competitor for Thunderbolt as well as a new universal mini PCIe connector for all devices.
“We plan to celebrate 20 years of innovation by continuing to seek new ways to deliver PCIe technology across a variety of computing platforms,” said Al Yanes, PCI-SIG president and chairman.
For the second time PCI-SIG revealed development of PCIe OCuLink, a small cable form factor supporting optical and copper optimized for internal and external enclosure usage. The OCuLink is being designed to offer bit rates starting at 8Gb/s (similar to PCI Express 3.0), with headroom to scale, and new independent cable clock integration. The internal and external connector supports up to four PCIe lanes, with all lanes supporting 8GT/s. This provides up to 32Gb/s in each direction within a four lane configuration; one lane and two lane configurations are also supported. By comparison, the existing Thunderbolt technology is based on PCI Express 2.0 specification and thus supports bi-directional 10Gb/s transfer speed.
Additionally, PCI-SIG is designing next generation form-factor that will be part of the mini CEM [card electromechanical] specification for the emerging ultra-light and thin platforms. A natural transition from the existing mini CEM specification, this form-factor is more flexible, smaller in both size and volume, offers better scalability and supports multiple technologies including Wi-Fi, SSD and wireless wide area network (WWAN).
“The PCI-SIG has amassed a long-term record of technical innovation tempered by real-world requirements for backward compatibility. PCIe 4.0 is poised to continue this market-savvy approach while keeping the technology on the leading edge of economical interconnect,” said Bob Wheeler, senior analyst at The Linley Group.