An industry standards group has voted to use Intels next-generation input/output technology as the basis for its next serial interconnect — promising computer users that future PCs will be able to handle oodles of bandwidth.
The forthcoming standard from the group, the Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group, represents the third major overhaul of PCI — a typical interface between a PCs central processor and peripheral devices such as network adapters — in almost 10 years. Members of the PCI-SIG include Compaq Computer, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Intel.
The initial version of the Intel-developed I/O technology, code-named Arapahoe, will have a data transfer rate of 2.5 gigabits per second per pin, scaling from one to 32 pins. Future versions are expected to hit 10 Gbps per pin and beyond. Initial data rates will be at least 10 times as fast as the PCI-X spec.
“To the average end user, Arapahoe means that two to four years from now, when you have more bandwidth available to the desktop, PCs will have a plug-in bus that will not be the bottleneck,” said industry analyst Cary D. Snyder, of research firm MicroDesign Resources.
Other fast I/O technologies are vying to replace PCI, including InfiniBand, which has garnered considerable industry support. However, whereas InfiniBand is designed for “out-of-the-box” connectivity among servers, Arapahoe is aimed at in-system expansion. Analysts said high-end servers with Arapahoe-based technology will hit the market in about two years.