PCI Express 3.0 to be backward-compatible with 2.0

— 3:07 PM on June 12, 2008

Will you be able to slip a GeForce 8800 GT in a PCI Express 3.0 motherboard in three or four years? Yes, according to an ExtremeTech report that quotes PCI Special Interest Group Chairman Al Yanes. Speaking at a conference yesterday, Yanes revealed that PCIe 3.0 will be backward-compatible with the current 2.0 standard and that it will use the same connector designs.

However, where PCIe 2.0 can transfer data five billion times per second per direction per lane, ExtremeTech says PCIe 3.0 will hit 8GT/s. The new spec will also ditch the 8-bit/10-bit encoding scheme current versions use, reducing overhead by 20% (8-bit/10-bit encoding uses 2 bits out of every 10 bits for error checking). The higher transfer speed and reduced overhead should theoretically translate to 1GB/s of bandwidth per direction for a single PCIe 3.0 lane—two times faster than PCIe 2.0 and four times faster than PCIe 1.1. For a x16 slot, maximum uni-directional bandwidth should be a whopping 16GB/s.

PCI-SIG expects to complete the PCIe 3.0 spec in late 2009, and it plans to begin testing in the second half of 2010. ExtremeTech says it doesn't know when PCIe 3.0-toting motherboards will start to hit stores, though.

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