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What just happened? We've only just started to see companies reveal their blisteringly fast PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSDs for consumers, but the PCI Special Interesting Group (PCI-SIG) is always looking to the next generation. Now, it has announced what we can expect in 2025: PCIe 7.0.
At the PCI-SIG Developers Conference 2022, taking place in California, the future version of the PCIe specification was announced. This comes after the consortium released the final PCIe 6.0 specification in January.
As with previous generations, PCIe 7.0 doubles the bandwidth of its predecessor, from 64 GT/s to 128 GT/s, equal to up to 512GB/s of bi-directional throughput (before taking into account encoding overhead and header efficiency) via the x16 connection. Looking at it another way, PCIe 7.0 has four times the bandwidth of PCIe 5.0.
The new specification will use 1b/1b flit mode encoding and is based on Pulse Amplitude Modulation with four levels (PAM4) that was introduced with PCIe 6.0. The commission writes that it is focused on improving power efficiency while delivering low latency and high reliability. As usual, PCIe 7.0 will be compatible with all previous generations of PCIe technology.
It's envisioned that PCIe 7.0 will be utilized for applications such as 800 G Ethernet, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and cloud and quantum computing. It will also be helpful in data-intensive areas, including hyperscale data centers, High-Performance Computing (HPC), and the military/aerospace.
It will be a long time before PCIe 7.0 devices start arriving. The specification is set to land in 2025, with the hardware not getting here until 2028—and there's still PCIe 6.0 to come.
There is the upcoming consumer PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSDs, too, promising speeds of almost 14 GB/s. They're set to arrive later this year when AMD's PCIe 5.0-supporting (Intel's Alder Lake also supports the standard) Zen 4 platform lands, rumored to be sometime in September.