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NeRve
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PCI-Express X1 - Still looks barren...

Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:11 am

PCI-Express X1 has been out for years now and the market still hasn't shifted their cards to it. Even the hi-end Xi-Fi soundcards are still regular PCI... When will they use this technology that has been out for some time?
 
lordT
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:25 am

I did see a gfx card on NewEgg. Other than that nothing whatsoever
 
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:28 am

There has been a bunch of gigabit ethernet cards, and PowerColor has a TV tuner card based on the Theatre 550. But yeah, haven't seen much yet.

I suppose this can only improve once all the AGP+PCI lovers move on to PCIe platforms... :-? IMO to say they are holding us back is an understatement.
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lordT
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:38 am

Flying Fox wrote:
I suppose this can only improve once all the AGP+PCI lovers move on to PCIe platforms... :-? IMO to say they are holding us back is an understatement.

It is going to take some time for all the people to shift over
 
danazar
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:47 am

Actually just a couple days ago I saw something really cool, a PCI-E x4 SATA RAID card... it was from either SiiG or Highpoint, I forget which.

Makes those boards with multiple x16 slots interesting, and not just for graphics. :D
 
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:58 am

There aren't many, but there are some.

I've seen (for sale, in actual stores, there must be more online) TV Tuners (including a quadtuner DVB-T card on one PCIe-x1 card), Gig NICs, graphics cards and drive controllers.

Haven't seen a souncard yet but they'll be round the corner soon enough.

Most RAID are x4 and up, which is a shame.
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:25 am

Most RAID are x4 and up, which is a shame.


More like thank god.

1x is only around double PCI 32bit/33mhz. A lot of the existing raid cards are on at least 64/33mhz or higher (64/66-133mhz w/ PCI-X) although they may be backward compatible somewhat.

Early PCI-e chipsets are too damn stingy on # of lanes, and so are most motherboard layouts on using what they get.

I like Intel's "request" that boards make every slot x16 physical and then whatever data can be managed. Then every card can at least be ready for x16 but downgrade as needed, or better yet user configured in BIOS etc. PCI-e was meant to be done this way from the start, but people got cheap.

I suspect in the future we will laugh at the early days of PCI-e with our 7 * x16 boards...or 6 * x16 and one PCI since it won't dieeeeeeeeeeeeee. :roll:
Last edited by Bauxite on Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
 
Severus
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:29 am

Yeah, sorry, what I meant was "its a shame that we have an abundance of x1 slots but they're not capable of supporting RAID controllers" meaning we need to find something else to shove in them instead :)

I'm well aware of the bandwidth available on the various buses and spend a good chunk of my time at work doing server sizing so identifying where bottlenecks lie is part of my job :D
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Tue Aug 01, 2006 7:44 am

As chipsets begin to get more and more PCI-Express lanes built into them, I think you'll start to see x1 slots even disappear. At least, I hope so...I'd rather buy a board with an abundance of x4 slots.
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shank15217
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:53 am

Bauxite wrote:
Most RAID are x4 and up, which is a shame.


More like thank god.

1x is only around double PCI 32bit/33mhz. A lot of the existing raid cards are on at least 64/33mhz or higher (64/66-133mhz w/ PCI-X) although they may be backward compatible somewhat.

Early PCI-e chipsets are too damn stingy on # of lanes, and so are most motherboard layouts on using what they get.

I like Intel's "request" that boards make every slot x16 physical and then whatever data can be managed. Then every card can at least be ready for x16 but downgrade as needed, or better yet user configured in BIOS etc. PCI-e was meant to be done this way from the start, but people got cheap.

I suspect in the future we will laugh at the early days of PCI-e with our 7 * x16 boards...or 6 * x16 and one PCI since it won't dieeeeeeeeeeeeee. :roll:


I doubt that. PCI-E standard will get faster before we start seeing 102 lane PCI-E northbridges.
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 3:04 am

shank15217 wrote:
I doubt that. PCI-E standard will get faster before we start seeing 102 lane PCI-E northbridges.


Well, we're already getting close. Nvidia's SLI platform offers 40 lanes of PCI-E already, so we're almost halfway there. ATI's Radeon Xpress 3200 chipset offers at least 38 lanes off just the northbridge. As the technology advances, it'll become more and more possible; ATI's already preparing to launch a system with three PCI-E 16x slots. They'll be advertising two for video and one for physics, but really, you can populate those with whatever you wish.

I think it's more likely, though, that we'll see 2-3 16x slots and several PCI-E 4x slots, on future boards. There's no need for that many full 16x connections, and 4x PCI-E honestly offers enough bandwidth for most of today's or even tomorrow's secondary peripherals. (If Creative Labs' most powerful sound card today can run off a normal PCI slot, I'm sure they can live within the realm of PCI-E 4x speeds for the next several years.)

Besides, beyond that... it's more likely we'll see further integration and even less need for that many expansion slots at all. Basic audio is already integrated on practically all motherboards, and premium audio will likely become integrated into the video card, especially with things moving toward HDMI and its all-in-one audio and video connector. (ATI's already talked about how, beyond physics, spare cycles on a GPU would be suitable to use for audio processing.) With onboard GigE, onboard WiFi, and onboard RAID, most consumer-level things are becoming included already, making the upgrade card unnecessary for all but the most hardcore users.

That means that PCI-E cards themselves will ultimately be priced out of the mainstream market, something that's perhaps happening already. With so much of this stuff already integrated, what's the point in spending the money to design new hardware that natively uses the PCI-E 1x or 4x interface, unless it has a solid market willing to spend the money? Seriously, think about it. How many consumers need to buy a PCI-E GigE card? Those that truly could use that much speed are likely to have upgraded their computer recently anyway, and that means they've probably already got it on their motherboard.

That's why there isn't a plentiful supply of such things out there, nobody needs them. And nobody will, not in numbers like regular old PCI 10/100 cards were.

I'm sure RAID cards will continue popping up in PCI-E form, as will GigE cards. But they'll more and more be "premium" cards geared toward businesses willing to pay enough coin to make it worth the effort, as the mainstream gets left more and more with the full integration we're heading toward as our only option.

In fact, this AMD/ATI alliance makes it possible for PCI-E to be rendered obsolete entirely in the next few years; imagine a computer with only three chips, the CPU, the GPU, and the "northbridge" containing all the secondary peripherals you'll ever need, including GigE, "HD" audio, etc., all linked together with the HT bus. You could build a computer small and cheap that way--and it'd be smaller and cheaper if they left off all those expansion slots you're talking about. Most computers will be the size of small SFFs then because of the cost savings in materials, building, and shipping, and once the major PC retailers start seeing things that way, full-ATX-size computers with room for that much expansion will really drop off fast.

Yep, within 5 years, most computers won't even have PCI-E slots. There'll still be a market for full-size expandable PCs... but with the real volume of parts already being integrated into most machines, the market for expansion cards is already dwindling, and will continue to do so. I honestly believe the lack of PCI-E expansion cards on the market now is a reflection of that.
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:45 am

Thats quite the speculation you have going there. If something like that was going to happen it would've but it's already past the days when you integrate every component into the board. People want flexbility and upgradeability. Not one 'thing' that you'll have to junk entirely the next time you want to upgrade your system.

I wouldn't buy it. Hell I would pay a premium NOT to have everything integrated into one board. It may be cheaper in the short term but not by far in the long run.


I too am waiting for PCI to die and PCI-E to take off. It was disapointing when I bought my X-Fi and it was PCI. I currently have a PCI-E raid card waiting to be inserted into my system but the lack of a PCI x8 has left me high and dry. All I have is one x16 and a couple x1s. Given I will be upgrading to a 'sli' board just to munch off the extra x16 slot I still will do it.

Speaking of PCI-E slots. Out of all the different variants all you really see outside the server class are x16 and x1 slots which is a shame. Asus has been trying though and they're starting to integrate x4 slots into a couple of their higher end boards. I think two x16s, one or two x1s and the rest x8s would be the best. x8s are still pretty small and pack quite a bit of bandwidth.

It would also be nice to see video card manufacturers giving their cards other interfaces besides x16s. I'm pretty sure budget cards wouldn't be able to saturate a x4 let alone a x16. A x4 slot has the equivelant bandwidth of a agp8x slot (2GB/s for PCI-E, 2.1GB/s for AGP8x).
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:07 am

shank15217 wrote:
I doubt that. PCI-E standard will get faster before we start seeing 102 lane PCI-E northbridges.


I think you missed the point - being that all slots should be 16x physical, and then electrically support X number of lanes based on the number available from the chipset. A 7-slot x16 system would require unreasonable trace routing and cost an arm, a leg and one of your nuts.

A board with 7 slots, all x16 physically, but with 2 x16 electrically, two x4 electrically and 3 x2 electrically would use only 42 lanes, and would be easy to route. Meanwhile, all PCI-e peripherals would work in any slot.

Remember that an x16 device will work in a x1 or x4 slot but with reduced bandwidth while an x1 or x4 device will plug happily into an x16 slot and work at full speed.

Standardising on the slot interface will reduce market segmentation, and is thus A Good Thing(tm).
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Shintai
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:31 am

Bauxite wrote:
Most RAID are x4 and up, which is a shame.


More like thank god.

1x is only around double PCI 32bit/33mhz. A lot of the existing raid cards are on at least 64/33mhz or higher (64/66-133mhz w/ PCI-X) although they may be backward compatible somewhat.

Early PCI-e chipsets are too damn stingy on # of lanes, and so are most motherboard layouts on using what they get.

I like Intel's "request" that boards make every slot x16 physical and then whatever data can be managed. Then every card can at least be ready for x16 but downgrade as needed, or better yet user configured in BIOS etc. PCI-e was meant to be done this way from the start, but people got cheap.

I suspect in the future we will laugh at the early days of PCI-e with our 7 * x16 boards...or 6 * x16 and one PCI since it won't dieeeeeeeeeeeeee. :roll:


Remember PCIe dont have to share the BW with the rest of the PCIe slots. In a normal desktop PC all PCI slots share the same 132MB/sec BW.

So the more cards you add, the worse PCI becomes. Specially if you already have an onboard NIC/Audio on it to begin with.
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:53 am

Remember PCIe dont have to share the BW with the rest of the PCIe slots. In a normal desktop PC all PCI slots share the same 132MB/sec BW.

So the more cards you add, the worse PCI becomes. Specially if you already have an onboard NIC/Audio on it to begin with.


Irrelevant (and :P duh), we're talking high performance RAID. x1, PCI, neither is good enough for a good hardware controller...which is why thankfully nobody is making them 8)

Existing RAID cards sit by themselves, ideally on their own PCI-X bus sharing nothing. Most server motherboards have multiple buses, typically 1-3 PCI-X buses at various speeds for RAID, multiport GigE etc.

One arrangement you see a lot is one bus for a single 64/133mhz slot and another bus with two 64/100 slots. Possibly a third bus with a few 64/66 slots. Then maybe one lone PCI 32/33 slot on its own bus for "legacy" cards.
 
kenton
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:57 am

I'd like to see some ExpressCards for notebooks.

Specifically a graphics upgrade option
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:17 pm

Bauxite wrote:
I suspect in the future we will laugh at the early days of PCI-e with our 7 * x16 boards...or 6 * x16 and one PCI since it won't dieeeeeeeeeeeeee. :roll:


Considering that ISA slots were still available on new motherboards as late as 2000, I don't think that the PCI slot is going to die any time soon :)
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 12:17 pm

Shintai wrote:
So the more cards you add, the worse PCI becomes. Specially if you already have an onboard NIC/Audio on it to begin with.

The latter qualification is only a problem if the onboard NIC or audio is connected via the PCI bus. Most modern chipsets have a way for the preferred integrated ethernet to be directly linked to either the northbridge (I think Intel calls this CSA) or the southbridge (like SiS, nVidia, etc.) and bypassing the PCI bus. Now some chipsets are hanging the integrated Ethernet off of one lane of the PCI-E bus, since it has bandwidth to spare. The sound chip doesn't use as much bandwidth but many chipsets have an integrated sound solution connected directly to the Southbrige again bypassing the PCI bus.

As far as the PCI-E RAID, I think it'll be a while before we see a significant shift from PCI-X for high-end RAID cards since server motherboards/chipsets with PCI-E are much less common than desktop boards and took longer to arrive. Since Intel and AMD have separated the sockets for server chips and desktop chips to increase market segmentation, I find it increasingly harder to find boards with appropriate features (recently I was looking for a Socket 939 or 775 board with PCI-X, and it was a pretty tiny selection).
 
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Wed Aug 02, 2006 1:15 pm

Norphy wrote:
Considering that ISA slots were still available on new motherboards as late as 2000, I don't think that the PCI slot is going to die any time soon :)

*cough* http://www.ageia.com/ *cough*

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