In January 2022, PCIe 6.0 received its final specifications from the PCI-SIG (PCI Special Interest Group). This is the latest version of the PCI Express (PCIe or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) standard.
In the latest version of the PCIe standard, graphics cards (GPUs), network cards, and SSDs can be connected to a computer. Also, as with every PCI Express update, we have an increase in data transfer speed.
PCIe: what is it?
PCIe stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. This is currently the main way to connect components to the motherboard, such as video cards, sound cards, and network cards. In addition, we still use NVMe M.2 SSDs, which use the PCIe standard through a dedicated slot for them.
PCIe slots on motherboards have different transfer rates depending on the number of lanes. There are four main types of PCI Express slots: x16, x8, x4, and x1. In most cases, they can be distinguished by their size, as x16 slots tend to be larger.
Types of PCIe slots. EVGA
The number connected to “x” represents the number of forwarding lanes of the PCIe slot. For example, in order to take full advantage of the potential of a video card, it is ideal that you buy a motherboard with a slot type that is compatible with the video card and the PCI Express standard.
PCIe 6.0: what’s new?
PCIe 6.0 x16 slots have a bidirectional bandwidth of 256 GB/s, while PCIe 5.0 can only provide half that amount (128 GB/s). When we say “bidirectional” we mean that the standard is capable of sending and receiving this total amount of data, such as when a GPU (graphics card) communicates with a CPU (processor). In other words, PCIe 6.0 can send 128GB/s and receive 128GB/s at the same time, for a total of 256GB/s.
An illustrative image of the PCIe slots on the motherboard. slashgear (Matt Milano)
Compared to the PCIe 3.0 standard, the bandwidth difference becomes huge. Here we have a total of 32 GB/s of data transfer in the 16x slot. PCIe 6.0 has 8 times more bandwidth than PCIe 3.0. However, even the most modern games would not reach the limit of this power.
The most notable improvement that can be seen with the development of PCIe standards is the speed of NVMe SSDs. PCIe 4.0 already delivers an average read and write speed of 7 GB/s. Late last year, we already announced PCIe 5.0 SSDs that promise speeds up to 14GB/s.
When will PCIe 6.0 hit the market?
Announced on January 11, 2022, the PCIe 6.0 standard should hit the market in 12 or 18 months, or in the first half of 2023. To give you an idea, AMD released its first PCIe 4.0 capable processors in 2019 and it took Intel early 2021 to do so. When it comes to graphics cards, we see that the PCIe 4.0 GPU standard started to be used around the same time that AMD processors debuted, and NVIDIA only released its first cards with the standard in 2020.
The PCIe 5.0 standard did not apply to Intel processors until late 2021, when Alder Lake desktop processors became available. As far as graphics cards are concerned, the standard hasn’t even appeared on some graphics hardware.
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