PCI Express, officially called PCI-E or PCI-X, is a high speed serial computer peripheral bus standard, designed as an alternative to the aging PCI, AGP and PCI. This is because PCI Express was chosen over these previous bus types because of several factors, one of which is that it is actually faster than the aforementioned three. Furthermore, PCI Express also provides a significant amount of bandwidth per bit compared to AGP and PCI. PCI Express has also proven to be a stable and powerful competitor in the server sector, outperforming many popular server brands including Xen, Sun, Red Hat, Hewlett Packard, and others.
One of the main reasons why PCI Express has become so popular is that it has several advantages over the other two. For one thing, it can transfer speeds of up to 10GB/s, making it the industry standard for both server and client grade data applications. However, another advantage of using PCI Express is that it can use several types of peripheral components that are familiar from other forms of bus controllers. These include:
o Fastening and plugging of peripheral devices. Because of its pluggable nature, the interface doesn't need to be changed when replacing a device such as a printer with a newer more powerful model. This eliminates the need for costly and inconvenient PCI-E slot replacements. In addition, because of the significant amount of bandwidth that can be transferred, this saves money on network traffic.
o High-bandwidth in relation to bus. Compared to the previous two bus standards, PCI Express offers much higher bandwidth at low power consumption. As a result, it is used in server and application servers where huge amounts of data are transmitted in short distances without the need to switch between different bus speeds.
o High availability in the form of readily available and compatible peripheral devices. The implementation of a standard like pci express has significantly reduced the number of possible peripheral interface cards in a host. In comparison, PCI bus relies on several different types of cards, each with its own PCI Express version that is not interchangeable with any other.
o Compatibility. Another major advantage of using this standard is compatibility. Most consumers and enterprises that have become accustomed to using only standard PCs, and not the latest mobility based devices, don't need to learn new software or make extensive changes to their desktop operating system to use the newer technology. Even their existing machines run smoothly and effectively with only a simple installation of the necessary drivers and software. Compatibility means less risk of encountering a security or performance issue related to PCI Express and therefore less headache and expense as well. As long as the proper PCI Express drivers and software are installed on the computers being used, all forms of PCI Express based devices will be able to communicate with each other.
o Reduced motherboard size. Standard PCI Express cards can occupy up to eight PCI slots on the motherboard. Compared to ten such slots on modern motherboards which sometimes leaves enough space for several PCI Express cards, the installation of a single pci express card will free up a great deal of desk space where formerly there was none.
o Easy upgrade. There are actually two ways in which a PCI Express card can be upgraded. One is to replace existing hardware with newer ones which may not always be compatible with the newer bus versions of PCI Express cards, and the other is to use an expansion card slot to add on another slot onto the motherboard. Using an expansion card slot also means that users do not have to learn a whole new set of PCE standards just to be able to take advantage of the faster bus speeds offered by pci vs pci express.
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