It was but three short weeks ago the specs for PCI Express 5.0 were finalised, and PCIe 4.0 is only just beginning to creep to market with the upcoming X570 chipsets, but already PCI Express 6.0 has been announced.
PCI Special Interest Group, or PCI-SIG, has formally announced the new PCIe specification. PCIe 6.0 is now in active development and will, once again, focus on doubling the bandwidth of a PCIe slot. PCIe 6.0 will double the speed of the upcoming PCIe 5.0, offering up to 64 GT/s transfer speeds, providing 256 GB/s of memory bandwidth from a single x16 PCIe slot.
That represents an absolutely mammoth bandwidth increase over today’s standards. PCIe 3.0 provides 32GB/s bandwidth, so we’re talking 8x the total bandwidth when jumping to PCIe 6.0.
PCIe 6.0 will be fully backward compatible with the five versions that come before it. It’ll utilise new Pulse Amplitude Modulation (PAM) signaling rather than Non-Return-to-Zero (NRZ) which has been used for the previous five generations. It's an encoding method already used in networking and will improve transfer efficiency. This allows PCIe 6.0 to pack in more bits during the same amount of time through a serial channel.
“PCI Express technology has established itself as a pervasive I/O technology by sustaining bandwidth improvements for five generations over two decades,” Dennis Martin, an analyst at Principled Technologies, said. “With the PCIe 6.0 specification, PCI-SIG aims to answer the demands of such hot markets as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, networking, communication systems, storage, High-Performance Computing, and more.”
“Continuing the trend we set with the PCIe 5.0 specification, the PCIe 6.0 specification is on a fast timeline,” Al Yanes, PCI-SIG Chairman and President, said. “Due to the continued commitment of our member companies, we are on pace to double the bandwidth yet again in a time frame that will meet industry demand for throughput.”
PCI-SIG is hoping for a two-year release cadence for the upcoming PCI specs. We had an unusually long seven years stuck with PCIe 3.0 but now we're due to get commercially available PCIe 4.0 this month, PCIe 5.0 in 2020, and then PCIe 6.0 in 2022.