Pci Express

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
does anyone know if mac will adopt the pci express standard in the furture or if there is any talk of it.. I mean i know its intel based, but i'm assuming the whole computer world would go to that revision of pci? does anyone have anything?...
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    kid kkid k Posts: 15member
    here's a link describing it... its most often called 3GIO if that helps, pci express is its codename... anything?



    click here http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.html?i=1830
  • Reply 2 of 29
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    PCI itself is an Intel technology, so that's not a barrier to adoption.



    As far as external links go, PCI implementations have to be backward looking. If someone spent thousands of dollars on a high-end HD video capture card, they expect to be able to pull it out of their old machine, stick in their new machine, and expect it to work. Now, Apple did just prune support for 5 volt PCI cards, but even though those have been out of spec for about 4 years now, and they still got lots of flak for it. Some vendors, like Mark of the Unicorn, continued to build and sell 5v cards and the professionals who bought them weren't happy when they find out that the cards didn't work in their new G5s. So Apple has to move carefully even when they're dropping support for a PCI technology that's been technically obsolete for 4 years! Given this, it's not easy to move forward. So Apple's PCI implementations have traditionally lagged.



    For internal use connecting motherboard components, Apple is already using AMD's HyperTransport in the G5. HyperTransport offers the same advantages PCI Express does, is highly scalable, and has broad vendor support. Apple sits on the HyperTransport Consortium. (Apple also has the option of Motorola's RapidIO, another fast serial bus for onboard communication.)



    Given these things, I really don't see Apple adopting PCI Express any time soon. In the mezzanine, PCI-X offers bandwidth and some measure of backward compatibility. On the inside, HyperTransport has the speed, the scalability and the low cost (and also the ability to travel several feet over cable). So while PCI Express is certainly something to look at, there are alternatives, and Apple seems to be leaning toward HyperTransport.
  • Reply 3 of 29
    kid kkid k Posts: 15member
    i'll bet your 100 percent right, but it always makes me wonder, especailly when many are saying that pci express may be just as significant as the inception of 64 bit computing... it offers even twice the bandwidth of pci-x from what i understand and a user friendly hot-swappable system for putting hardware into a given environment. for a company that has cornered graphic design, you'd think they would be better about that (pci in general)... i guess the hardware is probably way ahead of the software. BUT, who knows, maybe we could see a specialized model in 1.5 - 2 years.... it sound good on paper... then again...
  • Reply 4 of 29
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by kid k

    i'll bet your 100 percent right, but it always makes me wonder, especailly when many are saying that pci express may be just as significant as the inception of 64 bit computing... it offers even twice the bandwidth of pci-x from what i understand and a user friendly hot-swappable system for putting hardware into a given environment. for a company that has cornered graphic design, you'd think they would be better about that (pci in general)... i guess the hardware is probably way ahead of the software. BUT, who knows, maybe we could see a specialized model in 1.5 - 2 years.... it sound good on paper... then again...



    Well, graphic design really doesn't need PCI anymore. The onboard capabilities of existing systems are more than adequate, or at least capable of scaling to that point. The disciplines that do need PCI support need legacy PCI support more than anything - again, if you'd just spent $4000 on a PCI card, you'd damn well want it to work in your next machine, right?



    As for the rest, HyperTransport covers the other advantages, it's mature, it scales up beautifully, and Apple's already shipping it. nVIDIA and ATi both are looking at graphics chipsets that connect via HyperTransport instead of AGP, and down the road cards can be connected to a HyperTransport fabric by any means desired (including PCI Express!).



    I don't doubt that PCI Express is a step in the right direction, but it's important to keep in mind that Apple has already taken that step. AMD took it something like two years ago. We already have a fast, packet-based bus that can be used internally or externally, and used to hook up a user friendly hot-swappable system. (In fact, we have two, since that also describes FireWire - which, not coincidentally, has taken over some of the work that PCI used to do. So, for that matter, has USB 2.) PCI slots have hung around in the PowerMac G5 because Apple's PCI-using customers demand them.
  • Reply 5 of 29
    big macbig mac Posts: 480member
    As always, your comments are edifying, Amorph. I was previously under the impression that PCI-X is a stepping stone to PCI Express, but if Express isn't backward compatible (as you seem to imply) then that puts things in a different light. Also, are you saying that HyperTransport can be put in expansion slot form? How far off into the future do you think that form of the technology is?
  • Reply 6 of 29
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,268member
    When discussing PCI vs PCI-Express it's important to note that PCI(X) is a parallel based bus while PCI-Express is Serial. The theoretical advantages of PCI-Express are smaller and cheaper Motherboard interconnects.



    Just as Serial ATA gives it's users a nice thin cable over bulkier 40 or 80 conductor cables.



    PCI-Express won't be faster than PCI-X for sometime as both support similar speeds right now but Express should scale higher.



    I doubt that Express is really going to change much. Many people thought going to 8x AGP was going to make a difference but the current graphic cards that we have don't saturate the busses.



    Apple will eventually move to Express but so far I think it's a little too risky to trailblaze on this one.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    thttht Posts: 3,209member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by hmurchison

    When discussing PCI vs PCI-Express it's important to note that PCI(X) is a parallel based bus while PCI-Express is Serial. The theoretical advantages of PCI-Express are smaller and cheaper Motherboard interconnects.

    ...

    PCI-Express won't be faster than PCI-X for sometime as both support similar speeds right now but Express should scale higher.




    Given the reduced costs of manufacturing boards with PCI Express, theoretically, Apple will have no choice but to adopt it.



    Quote:

    Apple will eventually move to Express but so far I think it's a little too risky to trailblaze on this one.



    Yes. I think Apple will follow the technology here just like they did with AGP. If the high-end graphics cards are released on 3GIO first, or exclusively, then Apple has no choice but to have at least a 3GIO graphics slot in the Power Macs.



    If the graphics cards are there on time, Apple can ship a Power Mac G5 with a 3GIO grapics slot in 2004. There doesn't seem to be a competing technology for graphics, so I don't think it'll hurt Apple here any to adopt it early.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,791member
    As Amorph has alluded to, PCI / PCI/X and PCI EXpress are not at all alike. So this puts PCI Express into competition with other technologies such as HyperTransport. It is not likley that we will see the current PCI PCI/X implementation scalling much more; so I would not consider PCI Express or Hypertransport for that matter to be in competition with traditional PCI.



    HyperTransport is interesting and I think its viability over the long run will be determined by the amount of chips implementing it. Specifically the Graphics subsystem chips. If ATI or NVidia come out with graphics hardware, using Hypertransport, that show siginificant performance gains, then we can expect Hypertransport to be around for awhile. At this point PCI Express would need to have significant advanatages over Hypertransport to displace it from the market. It remains to be seen if it is able to do this, but Intel is an issue here.



    Given all of the above I do expect that we will be seeing standard PCI cards and bus implemented for some time. None of the above technologies, or other possibilities for that matter, dictate the elimination of PCI. PCI has worked out very well as an expansion card format and an onboard bus, for a number of reasons support of the boards will be around for awhile. As to the new technologies it remains to be seen what board arrangement is finally standardized. Now would be a good time to improve on some of the mechanical issues associated with PCI cards. It will be interesting to see if a major deviation is made from the current hardware.



    Edit:

    It is completely possible that we might see both Hypertransport and PCI/Express on the same motherboard. If the rumors about Hypertransport enabled PPC processors pan out Hypertransport could be around for awhile longer. One does not imply the eliminateion of another.





    Thanks

    Dave







    Quote:

    Originally posted by Big Mac

    As always, your comments are edifying, Amorph. I was previously under the impression that PCI-X is a stepping stone to PCI Express, but if Express isn't backward compatible (as you seem to imply) then that puts things in a different light. Also, are you saying that HyperTransport can be put in expansion slot form? How far off into the future do you think that form of the technology is?



  • Reply 9 of 29
    mmmpiemmmpie Posts: 628member
    Hypertransport and PCI-Express dont compete, for the simple reason that Hypertransport is designed as an intraboard interconnect ( between chips on the same board ), and PCI-Ex is an interboard interconnect. You are never ( in the next few years ) going to be faced with a scenario of buying a hypertransport expansion card or a PCI-Ex expansion card.



    The driving force in PCI-Ex adoption is going to be graphics. This is going to be exactly what drives Apple's adoption of PCI-Ex as well. It is quite feasible ( thanks to hypertransport ) to drop a PCI-Ex bridge chip, and a PCI bridge chip on the same motherboard, without major headaches, you can even through in an AGP chip too. Id expect Apple to produce machines like this for a while, boasting 2 or 3 PCI-EX slots, and one or two PCI slots. Much like the good days when systems had ISA and PCI slots
  • Reply 10 of 29
    kid kkid k Posts: 15member
    exactly... imagine agp 16x or 32x... thats pci express... most definitely the technology will be most important to graphics card makers.... its already rumored that both nvidia and ati will abandon pci as we know it now for the benefits of pci-express.... at that point apple will have to confrom one would think.. although i would also bet that something even newer and better may even surface by then..who knows.
  • Reply 11 of 29
    kroehlkroehl Posts: 164member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by kid k

    exactly... imagine agp 16x or 32x... thats pci express... most definitely the technology will be most important to graphics card makers.... its already rumored that both nvidia and ati will abandon pci as we know it now for the benefits of pci-express.... at that point apple will have to confrom one would think.. although i would also bet that something even newer and better may even surface by then..who knows.



    Yahbut, someone already said that AGP 8X isn't being saturated by today's grafx cards. Is there really a need for something that fast from the POV of nVidea and ATI?



    I'dathunk that the need would arise from other places like HD vidcap etc. My point is: Will pci-exp be too costly and will PCI/AGP/PCI-X be able to coexist with pci-exp?
  • Reply 12 of 29
    bartobarto Posts: 2,246member
    AGP was fine before 3D window managers appeared. Now huge amounts of data need to be transferred over the AGP bus, where as previously textures were loaded at startup or all the work was done by the CPU. Apple already has a 3D window manager with Quartz Extreme, and Sun and Microsoft are introducing 3D window managers in the future for Linux and Windows respectively.



    I have no idea about the cost of PCI Express, but seeing how successful Intel's latest technology USB 2 was/is (sarcasm), I wouldn't be surprised to see nVidia, ATi, AMD and Apple go the HyperTransport route. After all, most of the work has already been done. The only thing needed on motherboards is an expansion slot, because the bus is already there on G5 and nForce motherboard. Intel would be forced to adopt HT for their chipsets.



    Barto
  • Reply 13 of 29
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    USB2.0 is quite successful actually. It shouldn't ever have been, but it is, so who knows, they've virtually conquered the digital still camera market, thumb drives, scanners, printers, keyboards and mice (obviously) and even MP3 players.



    It shouldn't have ever gone past keyboards and mice, but the extra speed is particularly useful with digital cameras, scanners, and MP3 players.



    Apple had to concede that for a consumer music player to be successful at this stage, it needed to include USB, and thatnks to it being entrenched for slower speed devices, it will remain on computers everywhere for years to come.



    USB may still get it's comeuppance from firewire in the consumer space, with HDTV and a new generation of video cameras on the way. It's superior technology (firewire) but we already know that superior technology doesn't guarantee superior market acceptance.
  • Reply 14 of 29
    Supposedly, PCI Express will cost the same if not less then the current PCI standard. Also, PCI Express is an open standard, it isn't owned by anyone.



    We will most likely see a much larger adoptation of PCI Express then PCI-X, just for the sheer numbers of users using Intel.
  • Reply 15 of 29
    Quote:

    Originally posted by scavanger

    Supposedly, PCI Express will cost the same if not less then the current PCI standard. Also, PCI Express is an open standard, it isn't owned by anyone.



    We will most likely see a much larger adoptation of PCI Express then PCI-X, just for the sheer numbers of users using Intel.




    Intel has tried to make other technologies standard and failed in the past. Apple has had a better track record. Pushing USB, Firewire, 802.11b and now 11g. But in either case, if PCI Express is successful and cost effective, there is nothing from stopping Apple in adopting it. Hypertransport integrates with Express as well.
  • Reply 16 of 29
    bartobarto Posts: 2,246member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by stingerman

    Apple has had a better track record. Pushing USB, Firewire, 802.11b and now 11g.



    Intel created USB and marketed it, not Apple (although Apple sped up USB adoption with the iMac).



    USB 2 has been much less successful. Most USB devices are USB 1 because they simply don't need USB 2, and FireWire is already very popular for external drives and DV cams.



    Barto
  • Reply 17 of 29
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Interesting discussion. I get the impression that hyper-transport and PCI Express are competing like FireWire and USB 2 were. Intel got its way, so USB 2 is now a standard on new computers. FireWire coexists because it it better, but most Windows users don't have it. For them, it is something that must be worth the effort and expense of installing a FireWire PCI card.



    I'd bet it will be the same with PCI Express and hyper-transport. PCI Express will be on all x86 based PCs because Intel wants it that way. For this simple reason it will be the standard eventually. Some questions come to mind, however.



    1) For the present, wouldn't it be possible for AMD to produce a hyper-transport connector for graphics cards? This might be a short lived way of getting really high video performance before PCI Express gets here.



    2) Is it possible to use PCI Express as a system bus, exactly how hyper-transport is used? I bet that this is what Intel will be doing if they can, and Intel may even start making PCI Express enabled processors.



    3) Is it easy to build a bridge chip from hyper-transport to PCI Express? For those companies who go with hyper-transport, this would be a way to support a bank of PCI Express expansion cards, which will eventually be standard.
  • Reply 18 of 29
    amorphamorph Posts: 7,112member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by snoopy

    I'd bet it will be the same with PCI Express and hyper-transport. PCI Express will be on all x86 based PCs because Intel wants it that way. For this simple reason it will be the standard eventually.



    However, Apple and any company that wants to can build a HyperTransport or RapidIO-based board and market it, and the consumer will never know either way. They're just busses.



    Keep in mind that HT is backed by a sizable consortium, it's finished, and it's been shipping for a while.



    Quote:

    1) For the present, wouldn't it be possible for AMD to produce a hyper-transport connector for graphics cards? This might be a short lived way of getting really high video performance before PCI Express gets here.



    AMD has already discussed this. In the end it doesn't matter much, though, because you can build interfaces between HT and PCI Express.



    Quote:

    2) Is it possible to use PCI Express as a system bus, exactly how hyper-transport is used? I bet that this is what Intel will be doing if they can, and Intel may even start making PCI Express enabled processors.



    Yes, and Intel's pushing this use, among others. PCI has been used widely for years to connect components on motherboards, so this is a logical enough progression.



    Also, there is a way to get HyperTransport over a cable now, so it can be used externally.



    Quote:

    3) Is it easy to build a bridge chip from hyper-transport to PCI Express? For those companies who go with hyper-transport, this would be a way to support a bank of PCI Express expansion cards, which will eventually be standard.



    Sure. You can also go the other way, of course.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    snoopysnoopy Posts: 1,901member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Amorph



    . . . Apple and any company that wants to can build a HyperTransport or RapidIO-based board and market it, and the consumer will never know either way. They're just busses. . .









    Thank you for answering my questions.



    In my first comments, I wasn't referring to the system bus for the motherboard, but the bus used to connect expansion cards. Makers of expansion card will want one standard interface for the future, and this is where I suspect Intel will win out with PCI Express. It's nice to know that computer makers can go with HyperTransport now, for the motherboard and processor, stay with HyperTransport in the future, and easily adapt to PCI Express expansion slots when that time comes.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    bartobarto Posts: 2,246member
    How does the ability to have both technologies on the motherboard give an advantage to Intel? If anything, it gives an advantage to AMD. You can go with the underdog's technology virtually risk-free. And 99% of computers have two busses now, AGP and PCI, why not two busses in the future?



    Barto
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