Just how influential is Intel? If the fact that the company owns over 80 percent of the global microprocessor market doesn’t do anything for you, how about this: Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge line haven’t even been released yet – that’s why they’re “upcoming” – but manufacturers have already begun offering motherboards capable of utilizing the PCIe 3.0 slots supported by the chips. MSI kicked off the trend, and Asus’ German arm has pulled the veil off of three new Ivy Bridge mobos of its own.
If you're familiar with the ASRock brand, you probably recognize it as a builder of budget motherboards. ASRock has been known to appeal to enthusiasts with next generation and/or unique design decisions, like the 939Dual-SATA2 that combined both an AGP port and PCI-Express ports on the same board so users could have a GPU upgrade path to PCI-E without overhauling their foundation. ASRock's latest concoction is the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 motherboard, the first ever to implement PCI-E 3.0 ports.
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, Apple and Intel – this tech's set to collide with Thunderbolt in the marketplace.
Move over USB, because PCI Express is going 3.0, too. PCI-SIG, the special interest group responsible for PCI Express, published the PCI-E 3.0 specification on Thursday, which the consortium describes as a low-cost, higher-performance I/O technology that now includes a new 128b/130b encoding scheme and a data rate of 8 gigatransfers per second. In other words, double the bandwidth of PCI-E 2.0.
"Each new version of the PCI-E spec has doubled the bandwidth of the prior generation," said Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. "The latest group of PCI-E architects and designers drove the standard forward while maintaining complete backward compatibility for Gen 1 and Gen 2 devices. Rarely has a standard advanced so non-disruptively through three major evolutionary cycles. The ability to pull this off demonstrates not only the ingenuity of the Gen 3 developers, but also the insight of those who defined the earlier versions in such an extensible manner."
Want more numbers? The PCI-SIG says products designed for PCI-E 3.0 can "achieve bandwidth near 1GB/s in one direction on a single-lane (x1) configuration and scale to an aggregate approaching 32GB/s on a sixteen-lane (x16) configuration." What the new encoding scheme does is allow for near 100 percent efficiency, PCI-SIG says.