PCIe 4.0 and AMD 400 series chipsets
By Daniel Camilo 2019-05-27 1562 0
As we know, AMD's Zen 2 architecture introduces PCI Express 4.0. This revision will be widely used in servers with the EPYC range, but should also make its entry into the consumer market.
PCIe 4.0 is coming
Doubling the flow rates, this new standard is expected to be widely extended in 2019. It has the advantage of not requiring any modification of the physical port or even signal management. The evolution of the latter nevertheless makes the design of the motherboard more demanding, sometimes requiring the use of retimers, as we have already mentioned.
Since the beginning, manufacturers have indicated that some current motherboards could allow them to take advantage of PCIe 4.0 with a simple update of their BIOS/UEFI. The new references based on 500 series chipsets such as the X570 should mainly generalize this, among other innovations.
Gigabyte, which has just released updates to its AM4 motherboards, seems to be setting the stage for PCIe 4.0 activation on some models, as identified by a user on Reddit (X470) or @Momomo_us (B450). It remains to be seen which ports can actually benefit from it, and with which speeds.
What's the point in a mainstream PC?
Because if PCIe 4.0 will certainly make people talk about it, its concrete utility outside the servers remains to be demonstrated. Indeed, graphics cards for players do not need more throughput at the moment, just like most components of a traditional PC. However, this allows the same result to be obtained with fewer lines.
Thus, an SSD M.2 requiring four PCIe 3.0 lines to reach a data rate of 4 GB/s can now be satisfied with two PCIe 4.0 lines. This could be interesting for cards that can use four of them in RAID, requiring only eight PCIe 4.0 lines to operate at full speed.
Controller manufacturers have started to take the plunge, but products using this standard will not be available en masse for a few months at best. The Taipei Computex should be the occasion for first announcements, but also to know where the manufacturers really intend to go.
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