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PCI Express to take on Thunderbolt

by Hugo Jobling on 23 June 2011, 13:48

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The PCI Special Interest Group has plans to take on the Thunderbolt standard developed by Intel, reports the EE Times, with a cabled version of PCI Express, which would offer up to 32Gbit transfer speeds.

The proposed standard will be based on PCI Express 3, packing four 8Gbit lanes into a single cable. The initial proposal suggests using copper wires, with a maximum transfer distance of 3m, matching Thunderbolt's wired distances. A future version of the standard using optical cabling and PCI Express 4 would potentially reach 16 giga-transfers per second. The cabling would likely be thinner, and flatter, than that use for Thunderbolt interconnects.

As the proposed standard is designed for computer systems and their peripherals, it's though that it would support up to 20W of power delivery. That would be enough for a large range of appliances to run on without the need for an external power source. Thunderbolt is able to provide up 10W of power, shared among all the devices connected to a single port (of which there could be several).

The proposed standard is still being worked on, with the hope of having products using it available in mid 2013, so Thunderbolt (and USB 3.0) have a fair stretch of uncontested time ahead of them, yet.


HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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Why do PCI-E feel the need to do this? If it's for licensing revenue, then wouldn't they still get some from ThunderBolt? I thought that was said to use PCIe Technology?

I see fragmentation of standards for peripherals as being a bad thing, personally.
i agree although i think i prefer the idea of a PCI-E standard over thunderbolt. Could this finally lead to PCI-E external graphics cards for laptops? :D
Could this finally lead to PCI-E external graphics cards for laptops? :D
Can TB not manage this?
I think sony have already used TB for this however it only works with its specific laptop. I would have thought it would be easier for manufacturers to build on a PCI-E standard if non-proprietary cards start coming out.
Can TB not manage this?
All Thunderbolt does it add a wrapper protocol to PCIe and DisplayPort, adds the ability to daisy chain devices and a few other bits and bobs. Why not just miss out the middle man and make a native PCIe interface that can match Thunderbolt and bypass the licensing, restrictions and everything else that comes from the Apple and Intel joint venture?

Put Thunderbolt -> PCIe bridge on the end of a cable, plug any existing PCIe graphics card (or any other card) into it and it will work just as though it was inside the system as the Thunderbolt interface is transparent to the host OS.