PCI Express is a high-speed serial connection that allows you to connect video, sound and network cars to your computer's motherboard. The Express version outshines the original Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) system by working faster and with more bandwidth, which is necessary to support today's more powerful processors. PCI Express runs like a network, with different connections branching out from a common switch, allowing each device you use to have its own connection.
Data transfer by means of PCI Express connection occurs on lanes. For an A1 connection, the lane contains two pairs of wires -- a total of four wires. One pair receives data, and one sends data. The data moves in packets across a lane at one bit per cycle. The A1 connection is the smallest, but an A2 connection uses eight wires and transmits at two bits per cycle. The A4 connection transmits at four bits per cycle. One PCI Express lane can move 200 megabytes of data per second in both directions.
PCI Express is so fast that even an A1 connection can handle a gigabit Ethernet connection plus audio and storage applications. An A16 PCI Express connection transfers data at the phenomenal rate of 6.4 gigabytes per second in both directions. Many technological advances have made this speed possible. Some of these include data prioritization, real-time data transfer, materials improvement in connection production, improved handshaking and detection of errors, and better ways to disassemble and recreate data packets.
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