PCI-SIG Releases PCIe 4.0 Specification: 2x PCIe Bandwidth, OCuLink-2 Interconnect System

PCI-SIG Releases PCIe 4.0 Specification: 2x PCIe Bandwidth, OCuLink-2 Interconnect System

PCI-SIG(Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group), a community responsible for developing and maintaining the standardized approach to peripheral component I/O data transfers, has released the specs for PCIe 4.0 version 1, which promises data transfer rates of 16GTps. Also, the company said PCIe 5.0 is expected to make its debut in 2019.

On November 29, 2011, PCI-SIG preliminarily announced PCI Express 4.0, providing a 16 GT/s bit rate that doubles the bandwidth provided by PCI Express 3.0, while maintaining backward and forward compatibility in both software support and used mechanical interface. PCI Express 4.0 specs will also bring OCuLink-2, an alternative to Thunderbolt connector. OCuLink version 2 will have up to 16 GT/s (8 GB/s total for ×4 lanes), while the maximum bandwidth of a Thunderbolt 3 connector is 5 GB/s. Additionally, active and idle power optimizations are to be investigated. Final specifications are expected to be released in 2017.

In August 2016, Synopsys presented a test machine running PCIe 4.0 at the Intel Developer Forum. Their IP has been licensed to several firms planning to present their chips and products at the end of 2016. PCI Express 4.0 was officially announced on June 8, 2017 by PCI-SIG. The spec includes improvements in flexibility, scalability, and lower-power.

PCI-SIG is a 750 member-strong that governs the nigh-ubiquitous protocol. It typically releases major updates to PCIe on a four-year cycle, but the last release was PCIe 3.0, which debuted in 2010. That means it took almost twice as long to finalize and release PCIe 4.0 as its predecessors.

The chairman and president of PCI-SIG, Al Yanes discussed PCIe 4.0’s highlights in a blog post. Yanes said the protocol offers:

  • Extended tags and credits for service devices
  • Reduced system latency
  • Lane margining
  • Superior RAS capabilities
  • Scalability for added lanes and bandwidth
  • Improved I/O virtualization and platform integration

Many different components, from storage to networking, are using PCIe to send signals to a CPU. PCIe 4.0 could reduce the of NVMe SSDs (thanks to needing only half the lanes) and enable 10GbE connections over a single lane, for example. PCI-SIG said in June that the spec entered the 0.3 release phase in its development and that it was fast-tracked for an early 2019 debut. The organization also reiterated that timeline at Hot Chips 2017(A Conference on High Performance Chips) and predicted that the 0.5 release would be ready for the fourth quarter. It did not, however, reiterate that point in the email it sent announcing PCIe 4.0’s release; it merely said the 0.3 release has been released. But it did offer a more specific Q2 2019 time frame for the targeted release.

We don’t expect Intel to support PCIe 4.0 until mid-2019, and AMD has said it plans to add support in 2020. That means we’re unlikely to see any PCIe 5.0 products until 2020-2023, depending on how much the companies stick to these gaps between the specs’ release and support for them. Now that the specification is set, companies can build compliant products. A of PCIe 4.0-related news also appeared today in the form of protocol analyzers. In the last week, there was a of PCIe 4.0 product leaks. An AMD roadmap pins a GPGPU / GPU with the technology in Q4 2018. Several retailers that listed the upcoming Intel Optane SSD 900P early show PCIe 4.0 connectivity, and Intel has muttered about PCIe 4.0 a time or two, with upcoming chipsets set for release in 2018.

All signs lead us to believe we will have PCIe 4.0 in the consumer next year. The technology will enable manufacturers to lower the number of lanes per device to achieve performance levels we have today or to take a leap to new levels by utilizing the same number of lanes we use now. In notebooks, we should see greater battery life and an improved user experience. Desktops will get a heavy performance boost, as well. The technology will move us closer to true photo-realistic gaming that will impact both virtual and augmented reality.

Credits: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/pci-sig-releases-pcie-4-specs,35767.html

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