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OCZ demonstrates PCIe 3.0 based SSD

My strange enjoyment of OCZ's Revodrives leads me to find this PCIe 3.0 based SSD (16 TB at 6.5 gb/s transfer rate?  yes please) very exciting.  I'm sure there will be a day sometime in the next few years when I will find it affordable…I'm sure.

In any case, with the release of PCIe 3.0, we should start seeing some interesting tech upgrades, and possibly some new internal hardware that takes advantage of the increased data transfer rate.

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Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0

With the upcoming release of Ivy Bridge and PCIe 3.0, one question that might be on your mind is “will my current Z68 chipset board support a PCIe 3.0 video card?” Today I just want to take a quick look at the situation and hopefully answer that question.

First, a quick look at PCIe 3.0. This is the next iteration of PCIe, following the update to PCIe 2.0 in 2007. PCIe 3.0 is going to double the memory bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 – this is the most important change to realize. Some sites have taken a look at how that might affect current gaming – but this analysis has yet to be done with an actual PCIe 3.0 video card (as none are available yet).

The other thing about PCIe 3.0, is that in order for it to function you will be required to be running at least an Ivy Bridge CPU (presumably any CPUs released after Ivy Bridge will be compatible as well). Some of these motherboards have PCIe 3.0 capability, but only if you install an Ivy Bridge CPU into them. Currently Intel has indicated that Ivy Bridge will be compatible with the LGA 1155 motherboards – z68 and P67. You also of course need a PCIe 3.0 video card.

 

51nZvs2L9XL. SL75  Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0ASRock EXTREME7 GEN3/EXTREME4 GEN3 - these motherboards come with PCIe 3.0 capability. As previously mentioned, you must have an Ivy Bridge CPU installed. The way the PCIe 3.0 is activated is that the second x16 slot is directly connected to the CPU (where the PCIe 3.0 lanes come from in Ivy Bridge). This means that this particular motherboard can only run 1 video card at PCIe 3.0 (so no PCIe 3.0 SLI/Crossfire). The notes on the Gen 2 version of the next motherboard make me stress that you should only get the Gen 3 of this board if you are looking for future PCIe 3.0 capability.

51eRxCJnGhL. SL75  Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 – just like the Extreme7, this motherboard has the capability of switching one of it’s PCIe 2.0 slots to 3.0 with an installed Ivy Bridge CPU – again, no SLI/Crossfire. ASRock notates that the Gen 2 version of this motherboard will only provide PCIe 2.0 speeds even with Ivy Bridge installed – though you can run a PCIe 3.0 card in the slot (with 2.0 speeds).

 

51xkQ3Z91aL. SL75  Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0ASUS Maximus IV GENE-Z/GEN3 – This motherboard comes with 2 PCIe 3.0 capable slots. Ivy Bridge CPU Required. This suggests that this motherboard would be capable of running two PCIe 3.0 in SLI – notations indicated x8/x8, though at PCIe 3.0 speeds, this would be similar to running PCIe 2.0 SLI at x16/x16.

51Ny0QpwDEL. SL75  Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE GEN3/P8Z68-V Pro GEN3/P8Z68-V GEN3 – these motherboards also has 2 PCIe 3.0 capable slots (totally 3 PCIe 2.0 capable slots). No notations claim SLI in PCIe 3.0 is capable, however with 2 PCIe 3.0 slots, it is reasonable to assume this will be possible.

 

613BQPN1ZcL. SL75  Z68 Motherboards and PCIe 3.0Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3P/GA-Z68x-UD3H-B3/GA-Z68XP-UD3 – all three of these motherboards support PCIe 3.0 with what appears to be two x16 slots. The wording of their specifications suggests that these boards may only support one slot as PCIe 3.0. If they do support two, then they would run in x8/x8.

 

Of all these choices I have been most skeptical of the Gigabyte boards – they released “pcie 3.0 supported” z68 motherboards first, but as I recall they were shown to only be running at pcie 2.0 speeds (like the ASRock Gen 2 motherboards). The take home from this is that if you want to build a system right now, but with the ability to upgrade to PCIe 3.0 video card(s) – be sure you grab a Gen 3 Z68 board from ASRock/Asus or a UD3/B3 board from Gigabyte. Even though some P67 boards may support Ivy Bridge, it doesn’t appear that any will support PCIe 3.0.

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PCIe 3.0 – Looking at Future Tech for Computer Building

Don’t you just love how everytime you purchase some new technology, the next version is just around the corner? It always seems like you have a very short lived time until whatever you have bought new becomes obsolete. Fortunately I like to think otherwise, and my strategy towards building gaming computers is to build a gaming pc that has a certain level of value which will allow it to perform well, even if it is two or three generations of technology old. That being said, every time you purchase a new system, it can be prudent to ask – what is next? Should I buy new now or should I wait? Should I upgrade?

I just wanted to take a quick look at some technologies that aren’t too far around the corner – PCIe 3.0 and Ivy Bridge Intel chipset which will start making their appearance next year. Before I go into them, it is safe to say that with the release of Z68, any Sandy Bridge built system on H67 chipset, P67 chipset, or Z68 chipset will last you a long time. The improvements made with this current generation are the kind with which one can build a pretty decently budgeted system that could easily last 5 years. I currently have a system built around older technology that is like this.

I run a Q6600 with 8 GB RAM (upgraded from 4 originally) and an EVGA 8800GT. There isn’t a game out there that I am unable to play – though I tend to stick to games like Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft (not so much these days), and soon to be Diablo 3. They are certainly more forgiving on graphics than Crysis 2 for example, but I use them to show that a system can be built with value to play even brand new games 4-5 years down the road (I built this in early 2007). So all that being said, if you are ready and want to build a new gaming system right now, then you shouldn’t wait potentially 6-8 months for the next iteration.

The current PCIe version is 2.0, or 2.1 on some graphics cards. The PCIe 2.1 cards are simply cards which are primarily PCIe 2.0 compatible, but have some capabilities which will be usable when PCIe 3.0 finally comes out. Now for the techy part: Currently PCIe 2.0 provides 4 Gbps (Gigabits per second), or 500 MB/s per channel per direction (500 Megabytes up and 500 down -> 8 bits = 1 byte). On a board which provides a 16x (16 channels) PCIe 2.0 slot (all the boards I consider have this), you get 16 GB/s full bandwidth. PCIe 3.0 will provide 8 Gbps, or 1 MB/s per channel per direction. This doubles the information bandwidth at 32 GB/s full bandwidth. Needless to say, driving double the information is likely to lead to some pretty awesome graphics architecture.

The reason I talk about PCIe 3.0 right now is that we are likely to start seeing motherboards released over the next 6 months which provide PCIe 3.0 slots. Here is the very important key to understand: PCIe 3.0 is only going to work with an Ivy Bridge CPU. The Sandy Bridge CPUs do not interface with the PCIe 3.0 bandwidth. So you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of that until you have an Ivy Bridge CPU loaded in the system – not to mention you would also need a PCIe 3.0 video card which do not exist yet either.

IF a Z68 motherboard were to be developed with PCIe 3.0 capabilites, AND the Z68 chipset is confirmed to support the new Ivy Bridge Intel architecture, AND the board tests better than my current recommendation in the Mid Range Build list. One such board which could fill that slot is the ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 – judging from the press release, it appears that the board may supply 16x/16x PCIe 3.0 SLI/Crossfire. That sort of board is likely going to run on the expensive side. I will be keeping an eye on these developments and will post new recommendations as they arise.

Until then, Ivy Bridge looks to make its appearance sometime early/mid 2012, which means we won’t see any serious implementation of PCIe 3.0 until then as well. If you are looking to upgrade, and you want to do so now then I would say don’t hesitate!

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