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 Jul 19, 2004 - 12:59 PM - by Michael
* What PCI-Express means for the End User

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
An interesting article on D-Silence on what PCI-Express Means to YOU.
PCI-Express takes a leaf out of the book of the LAN and adds a switch to the system topology. The switch replaces the multi-drop bus and is used to distribute I/O messages on a peer-to-peer basis. This means that if one PCI-Express device wants to send data to another, it doesn't necessarily need to go through the chipset (even though the switch may be part of the chipset). This reduces the amount of messages that the chipset has to process itself. Next, from the switch comes PCI-Express links. Each link can contain many 'lanes' making each device link individually scaleable, in turn, adding more bandwidth with the addition of each lane. This is where the term 1x, 2x 4x, 16x etc comes in. Standard add-in cards may be 1x (low bandwidth), graphics cards may be 16x (very high bandwidth), depending on the needs of the cards.
I remember seeing a few similar things with PCI motherboards - AGP was developed for "high speed" applications, and the AMR (Audio/Modem Riser) was developed for apps that "theoretically" need low bandwidth - but as it turns out, nobody ever used an AMR if they could help it. Theoretically speaking, I'd rather have a motherboard with a whole set of AGP16x or half 16x and half 8x slots; you can always plug a 1x device into an 8x slot, after all, but you can't go up the other way. Plus, it's interesting to note that the motherboard they showed has only one 16x slot, despite both Alienware and NVidia's announcement of dual-video-card setups.
 

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