PCI Express Developing Blazing-Fast External Standard

Brad Chacos

They say you can never have too much of a good thing. That theory's being put to the test by computer transfer technology. We've already got FireWire, USB, Ethernet, eSATA, et cetera, et cetera. Now, an old contender is entering the field sporting new technology; the PCI Special Interest Group recently announced that they're developing a new standard for an external, cabled version of the formerly internal-only PCI Express. Watch out, Intel – this tech's set to collide with Thunderbolt in the marketplace.

The specification's still in the design stages, but the target numbers being tossed around still make you sit up an take notice. EE Times reports the external PCI Express will be based on PCIe 3.0 and capable of transfer rates up to 32Gbps in distances up to three meters, a number that makes Thunderbolt's otherwise-speedy 10Gbps seem sluggish in comparison. On the downside, the spec won't support devices that pull in more than 20 watts of power, so the dream of plug-n-play high-end graphics cards is still just a dream.

Design-wise, the external PCIe's cord and connector are "expected to be flatter than those of Thunderbolt," EE Times says. The initial design will be based on standard copper wiring, but high-speed copper and fiber wiring specs could be implemented in the future. Don't start drooling yet, though – external PCIe cables aren't expected to hit the streets until mid-way through 2013.

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