Products taking advantage of PCI Express 5.0 are just beginning to arrive on the market and we are already talking about version 6.0. The characteristics of this new standard have just been finalized, as announced by the consortium responsible for it in a press release. As a reminder, the PCIe is the connection that makes the link between the processor and a large part of the components.
This new version offers a significant speed gain: up to 256 GB/s of total bandwidth in a 16-line connection. In comparison, the PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 connections found everywhere these days offer 32 GB/s and 64 GB/s respectively. The very recent PCIe 5.0 is blocked at 128 GB/s. But that doesn’t mean it’s old-fashioned: the development of the standard traditionally has a good head start on the market.
Although it is renewed approximately every three years, the industry takes time to adopt it. It takes several years before it is deployed in the majority of products. To give you an idea, the characteristics of version 6 are already finalized while the MacBook Pro M1 Pro/Max only ship PCIe 4.0. For the moment, only Intel has compatible processors (the brand new Alder Lake), and AMD has promised to catch up with it within the year.
Currently, version 4.0 remains the standard for high-end while PCIe 3.0 is found in most mainstream SSDs. These “old” standards are fast enough for professional use, and the incredible speeds of PCIe 6.0 will surely come in handy in some specific cases. The consortium cites in particular the data center or the military and aerospace industry. We should then see it gradually arrive in consumer devices.
Fortunately, these developments do not mean that we will have to change hardware, because the standard is backward compatible with all existing versions of PCIe. The consortium expects the first PCIe 6.0 devices to be released within the next 12 to 18 months, but it will likely be a few years before we see the standard in action on our machines.