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Early PCIe 7.0 specs foretell a ludicrously fast future for SSDs

Motherboard with blue PCI-express slot, close-up and selective focusingImage: Dan74 /

Are you ready for PCIe version 6.0? No? Your motherboard doesn’t even have PCIe 5.0 yet, because you’re squeezing every last possible ounce of value out of AM4? Well too bad, because PCie 7.0 is now on the horizon. And while it’s still a ways off — the final version of the spec won’t be available until next year — the speed it’s offering will be mind-blowing.

We’re talkin’ up to 512 gigabits of data per second when using x16 lanes on a fully-open motherboard slot, double the prospective speed of PCIe 6 and four times the speed of PCIe 5. So sayeth the Peripheral Component Interconnect Special Interest Group, better known as PCI-SIG. The group has released its 0.5 spec for members, according to a public post spotted by AnandTech.

PCI-SIG doubled down on its stated goals for the final version of PCIe 7.0, a little less than two years after its announcement. According to the blog post, these include:

Delivering 128 GT/s raw bit rate and up to 512 GB/s bi-directionally via x16 configurationUtilizing PAM4 (Pulse Amplitude Modulation with 4 levels) signalingFocusing on the channel parameters and reachContinuing to deliver low-latency and high-reliability targetsImproving power efficiencyMaintaining backwards compatibility with all previous generations of PCIe technology

It’s all a fairly straightforward evolution of the PCI Express standard, and frankly, it’s so gosh-darn speedy that it’s rapidly eclipsing the needs of basic consumers with standard PCs. There aren’t any graphics cards that actually use the PCIe 5.0 standard for data at the moment, and PCIe 5.0 SSDs are really only necessary if you’re handling truly massive amounts of data, like 4K video production or high-end 3D modeling. Gamers shouldn’t waste their money on a PCIe 5.0 SSD.

PCI-SIG says that the incredible speed will be useful for “data-intensive markets like 800G Ethernet, Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Hyperscale Data Centers, HPC, Quantum Computing and the Cloud.”

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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