Inq: PCI Sig approves external cabling spec 1.0

in General Discussion edited January 2014
This + Mac Book Pro =

By Theo Valich: Friday 09 February 2007, 08:38

ASUS's XGSTATION WAS a foray into the world of external graphics cards, but things are looking far more official after the PCI-SIG rubber-stamped specification which calls for PCI Express External cabling.

The standards body now allows for PCIe signaling at x1, x4, x8 and even x16 to be transported via a cable no longer than 10 meters. This also kills a bunch of bandwidth bottleneck and signalling problems which kept graphics manufacturers away from playing with the idea of external graphics cards. Remember, when you're ouside a standardised box, you can do whatever you want - no thermals to be careful of.

Sadly, the PCI-SIG is still maintaining itd attitude that it's not allowing specifications for public download, so we got in touch with Molex and got some preliminary details about the cables, which are already in production. In order to sustain the quality of signaling, a 38, 68 and 136-pin layout is required, depending on the supported speed. In first picture, you can see how the connectors look:

From slowest to fastest - x16 connector certainly looks like it means business

The second set of pictures gives you an engineering schematic of the PCIe External Link cable and the connector for the fastest x16 variant.

Cable itself can range from couple of centimetres to 10m (32ft). More than that, and you need to put a repeater between two cables.

For x16 bandwidth, four separately shielded cables merging in every 136-pin connector are required

The target for the standard isn't only graphics, although the battle of the 3D titans will be featured the most. The purpose is also to expand servers, with RAID and storage controllers placement on the storage rack and not inside the server,and also the multiplication of the PC and various bandwidth-hungry systems such as medical devices.

But in the end, this announcement means only one thing. A future with external graphics cards which will feature their own PSUs and cooling is upon us.
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