PCI-SIG Exploring Optical Interconnect to Enable Higher PCIe Technology Performance

Image: PCI-SIG

PCI-SIG, the consortium behind the ubiquitous PCI technology, has announced the formation of a new PCI-SIG Optical Workgroup that aims to deliver PCIe technology over optical connections. The new optical interconnect is expected to usher in a number of major benefits, including higher performance, lower power consumption, and reduced latency, according to some researchers. The PCIe 7.0 specification, which promises a 128 GT/s raw bitrate and up to 512 GB/s bi-directionally via x16 configuration, is targeted for member release in 2025.

“Optical connections will be an important advancement for PCIe architecture as they will allow for higher performance, lower power consumption, extended reach and reduced latency,” said Nathan Brookwood, Research Fellow at Insight 64. “Many data-demanding markets and applications such as Cloud and Quantum Computing, Hyperscale Data Centers and High-Performance Computing will benefit from PCIe architecture leveraging optical connections.”

“We have seen strong interest from the industry to broaden the reach of the established, multi-generational and power-efficient PCIe technology standard by enabling optical connections between applications,” said PCI-SIG President and Chairperson Al Yanes. “PCI-SIG welcomes input from the industry and invites all PCI-SIG members to join the Optical Workgroup, share their expertise and help set specific workgroup goals and requirements.”

The PCI-SIG Optical Workgroup intends to be optical technology-agnostic, supporting a wide range of optical technologies, while potentially developing technology-specific form factors.

Existing PCI-SIG workgroups will continue their generational march towards a 128GT/s data rate in the PCIe 7.0 specification, while this new optical workgroup will work to make the PCIe architecture more optical-friendly.

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