How does PCI Express work?


Quick Answer

PCI Express is a hardware protocol that moves data through serial connections that operate as a network. A switch is used to control multiple data connection channels, and each device connected to the PCI Express receives a dedicated communication channel that eliminates problems with data bandwidth bottlenecks. Each connection lane is made up of two pairs of wires that function as a path for the sending and receiving of data.

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Full Answer

Data can travel across the connection lane at a rate of 1 bit per cycle. As of 2014, PCI Express items can also be configured up to x32, which allows 32 bits of data per cycle. The protocol is available on both desktop and laptop PCs and can support a large variety of devices, including video cards and USB 2.0 ports.

A regular communication lane on the PCI Express can handle up to 200 megabytes of multidirectional data traffic per second. This is a significant increase over a regular PCI or PCI-X bus 32-bit or 64-bit connection, as those devices are limited to up to 1 gigabyte of data per second. A similar sized x32 or x64 PCI Express can handle between 12.8 and 25.4 gigabytes per second. The pins on a typical connection lane are also fewer in number compared to a regular PCI.

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