Originally announced all the way back in 2011, the PCI Express 4.0 serial bus standard has finally made its way to market. PCI-SIG, the organisation behind the standard, has revealed the final specs.

PCIe 4.0 (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) represents the first advancement for the motherboard expansion slot in seven years. On paper it’s all pretty straightforward, doubling the bandwidth of the PCIe lanes and improving the data transfer rates. The PCIe 4.0 specification delivers 16GT/s data rates in comparison to 8GT/s on PCIe 3.0.

PCIe 4.0 Additional Enhancements:

  • Extended tags and credits for service devices
  • Reduced system latency
  • Lane margining
  • Superior RAS capabilities
  • Scalability for added lanes and bandwidth
  • Improved I/O virtualization and platform integration

From an end user point of view, there are some key benefits to this update. The increased bandwidth of PCIe 4.0 means both larger and cheaper NVMe SSDs should be on the way, utilising half the lanes for the same ultra-fast speed. Alternatively, they could use every lane and clock up previously unheard of speeds. There’s also the lower power draw to consider, making PCIe 4.0 more cost-efficient. There’s also GPUs to consider, and we could begin to see some impressive gains for those using SLI or CrossFire configurations. It’s conceivable the likes of Nvidia could opt to remove the SLI connector entirely.

PCI-SIG’s plans don’t begin and end with PCIe 4.0 though. Its roadmap has laid out plans for PCIe 5.0 arriving as soon as 2019, double the data rates once more, this time all the way up to 32GT/s, four times faster than today’s standard. Plenty of moving and shaking in this area then, with the result for us being faster and hopefully cheaper performance.