First PCI Express x1 Add-In Cards Begin to Emerge

World's First PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet Controller Makes It to Retail

by Anton Shilov
01/29/2005 | 11:32 AM

Leading graphics chip companies ATI Technologies and NVIDIA Corp. adopted the PCI Express x16 interconnection type rapidly and were able to ship their products for Intel’s latest PCI Express platforms immediately after the giant chipmaker formally lifted the wraps off the i915- and i925X-series chipsets nearly half a year ago. However, designers of other add-in components, such as network and audio controllers, are beginning to adopt the new PCI Express bus only now.


SysKonnect, an Ettlingen, Germany-based company has recently initiated sales of its SysKonnect SK 9E21D single-link Gigabit Ethernet adapter intended for applications supporting PCI Express x1 slots, such as modern servers, workstations or desktops. The devices is based on a GbE chip from Marvell and is compliant with variety of operating systems, including Microsoft Windows NT4, 98 SE, ME, 2000, XP Professional and Home, Small Business Server 2003, Server 2003 x64, Server 2003 for 64-bit Itanium, Linux 2.4.13 and higher.

SysKonnect SK 9E21D GbE adapter, photo by Akiba24.

PCI Express x1 interconnection provides a number of tangible benefits to add-in cards, such as GbE controllers, compared to 32-bit/33MHz PCI, including huge dedicated bandwidth of about 500MB/s, full-duplex operation as well as hot-plug capability.

Still, despite of benefits the new bus brings, not all users are likely to welcome advantages of the PCI Express x1 add-in cards warmly because the vast majority of today’s mainboards already support build-in Gigabit Ethernet and audio controllers, which is why not a lot of users are projected to be interested in PCI Express x1 add-in components. Given that contemporary chipsets with integrated graphics cores do not sport the level of performance and feature-set modern graphics processing units from NVIDIA Corp. and ATI Technologies bring, customers’ interest in PCI Express x16 graphics cards is supposed to be much higher compared to demand for PCI Express x1 products.

The first commercially available Gigabit Ethernet controller costs $38 and $67, much more compared to PCI GbE solutions, in the US and Japan respectively, according to Pricewatch and Akiba24 web-sites.