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  PCI Express Reference Guide (ver 2.1)

What about PCMCIA?

The PCMCIA group has also adopted the PCI-Express technology with their new ExpressCard standard.


(photo courtesy of

The ExpressCard standard supports both the USB 2.0 and PCI Express interfaces.

ExpressCard Diagram

(image courtesy of

ExpressCard advantages:

  • A Smaller & Faster PC Card Solution
  • Suitable for Mobile and Desktop Systems
  • Supports USB 2.0 and PCI Express Applications
  • Lower System and Card Complexity

Frequently Asked Questions

After the first version of this guide was released, we received a few questions that we will use to start our FAQ.

Q. How will the addition of PCIe to my system affect interupt handling?

A. Hopefully the only change will be the addition of the new slots for you to use. PCIe is fully backwardly compatible with existing PCI technology. Current operating systems like Windows XP will quite happily use the PCIe slots without issue. Although some versions of Windows NT/2000 will not be able to use the new PCIe slots without some tweaking. Longhorn, according to some random errata on, will have native support for PCIe, but until then, the operating system will emulate the slots like they were typical PCI slots. This does not mean that they will perform like current PCI, only that they may get better in the future when the operating system is written to support PCIe functions fully.

Q. So after all this techno-babble what does it mean for the end user?

A. From the system performance point of view, the advantages to the end user should be obvious. The increase in bandwidth between devices and the fact that devices can interact without using CPU time is a distinct performance advantage over the current PCI set-up. The first thing will be the requirement for a new motherboard with PCIe on it. Some manufacturers.(like the ASUS P5-AD2 Deluxe shown above) are providing boards with both the current PCI we know and the new PCIe slots. Therefore, transitioning your hardware can take place in phases.

One other point that was raised by HardOCP was to do with PCIe graphics cards and PSU‚??s. ‚??24-pin PSUs will be a requirement for the GeForce 6800 on a motherboard that might not be that well engineered." So your old faithful PSU that has served you so well in the past may also need replacing. Then, as an after thought, your operating system may need updating. As mentioned above, some versions of windows do not support PCIe straight away, so if for some strange reason your still running Windows 95, be prepared.

Q. Over the years, consumers complained that games were not taking full advantage of AGP4X, let alone AGP8X. What makes PCI Express any different?

A. While developers had more than enough bandwidth available in AGP8X, they claimed that the AGP bus was too slow for their needs. The speed of the PCI Express will change that...albeit very slowly. When developers determine what features and technologies to support in their upcoming games, they project what the hardware base will be when the game is released. Since it will be quite a while before the vast majority of computers have PCI Express, don't look for too many games to take advantage of PCI Express for awhile.


PCI-Express builds on and improves the system architecture of computers today. Allowing for greater speed and device independance. The immediate benefit is increased bandwidth and scalability. PCI Express offers 4GB/s of peak bandwidth per direction for a x16 link and 8 GB/s concurrent bandwidth.

PCI-Express Bandwidth

(image courtesy of Intel)

In addition, PCI-Express is designed to add no extra production costs to current designs. The PCI-Express x16 connector is expected to be at cost parity to the standard AGP connector at high volume.

* Availability was determined using the following sources:

Additional Resources

Intel PCI-Express developer info

NVIDIA PCI-Express Presentation

PCI Express Video Animations


Previous Page    
Table of Contents
Page 1: Introduction, Background and What is it
Page 2: What do I get, Cost and when can I get it
Page 3: PCMCIA, FAQ, Summary and Resources

      Posted by: , November 11, 2004, 6:00 pm  

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