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What is PCIe? A 60 Second Overview

By ·Categories: Industrial IoT, Tech Explained·Published On: April 14th, 2021·1.9 min read·

Our blog post about PCIe 4.0 has been very popular, likely because this connectivity standard has become the go-to interface for so many of today’s expansion cards and GPUs. That post focuses on the differences between generation 3.0 and 4.0. But what is PCIe exactly?

In our new Tech Edge video, we break down the basics of PCIe in just 60 seconds. Check out the video, and be sure to subscribe to the OnLogic YouTube channel for more.

What is PCIe?

PCIe stands for Peripheral Component Interconnect Express. It’s the term for this particular type of connection between a computer’s motherboard – or host – and peripherals – or endpoints – like graphics cards, sound cards and expansion cards. To connect them, you plug the PCIe card into the PCIe slot on the board.

Types of Slots and Cards

There are 5 common types of PCIe slots and cards: x1, x2, x4, x8 and x16. The numbers represent the number of lanes on the card or slot. Just like the lanes on a road, these lanes are paths for data to travel on. X1 has just one lane, x4 has 4 lanes, etc. So, the more lanes, the more data can travel on them, and therefore the higher the potential rate of data transfer.

What are PCIe Generations?

Lastly, a quick note on generations. 5 generations of the this standard have been established. The key difference between them is that the data transfer rate in each individual lane has doubled with each new generation. The newest available generation is 4.0 and it offers up to 16 gigatransfers per second per lane.  Products with generation 5.0 are expected to start hitting the market in 2022.

What other PCIe Questions Do You Have?

So there you go, those are the very basics of PCIe. Like I said, there’s a LOT more we could talk about when it comes to this technology, and we will, so drop your questions in the comments and we’ll answer them in a future blog or video. If you enjoyed this video, please visit our YouTube channel to give it a like and be sure to subscribe for more. 

Ready to explore more? Check out our variety of expansion cards and add-on modules for flexible I/O, including daughterboards, PCI, PCI Express and PCI Express Mini Cards.

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About the Author: Darek Fanton

Darek is the Communications Manager at OnLogic. His passion for both journalism and technology has led him from the newsrooms of local papers to the manufacturing floor of IBM. His background in news gathering has him always on the lookout for the latest in emerging tech and the best ways to share that information with readers. In addition to his affinity for words, Darek is a music lover, juggler and huge fan of terrible jokes.
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