No matter you are regular PC users or heavy power users seeking for higher performance, you definitely have the right to know the truth about your PC platform to identify it’s a real PCIe Gen 3 Support platform or fake one. Of course everyone wants PCIe Gen 3 especially when you know it double the bandwidth of previous PCIe generation up to 32GB/s which surely strikes the first and huge blow in motherboard.
Hence, more and more motherboards manufacturers have announced PCIe Gen 3 Support motherboards recently. Is it real that your speed dream comes true? Or they are just building up another bubble. In fact, to form a real PCIe Gen 3 Support platform, you might need all the following conditions to make it real:
Q1. Necessary conditions for PCIe Gen3 Support
There are 3 Must users need to have in order to construct a real PCIe Gen 3 support platform: 1. Intel IVY Bridge & Sandy Bridge-E CPU 2.BIOS with updated ME 3. PCIe Gen 3 Graphics Card.
Actually, the function of PCI Express is supported by your CPU. That is to say, only if your CPU supports PCIe Gen 3, your motherboard could have the function of PCIe Gen 3. So far, as we could know, PCIe Gen 3 would be supported by Intel IVY Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E CPU which will be launched next year (2012). Without CPU, of course, no motherboard manufacturer could have real BIOS and Management Engine (ME) ready for these two kinds of CPUs. And most importantly, what do we need PCIe Gen 3 for? For graphics card! And there is no PCIe Gen 3 graphics card in the market yet. In short, there is no real PCIe Gen 3 support platform so far.
Q2. What is ME? How to update ME?
ME, the full name is Management Engine, is the firmware of Intel chipset. ME is also deep related to your chipset to support CPU. Currently, as Intel hasn’t released any IVY Bridge CPU, it has no reason to release new firmware to support PCIe Gen3. Even when Intel has new ME to support IVY Bridge CPU, it’s difficult for end-users to update by themselves. Unlike users can flash BIOS by themselves, ME has to be updated by a special tool called FITc. Normally, if you want to update your ME, you have to send your motherboard back to your manufacturer to do so. Namely, it’s another barricade for consumers to have real PCIe Gen 3 currently.
Q3. Check your PCIe switch chipset.
Many motherboards has been planted a PCIe Switch IC to switch the bus speed from x16 or x8 to your PCIe slots by different design purpose. Users have to make sure the switch IC adopted on your motherboard support PCIe Gen 2 or Gen 3. Besides, some high-end Intel 6 series motherboards adopt NIVIDA NF200 chipset to support SLI or CrossFireX. However, NF200 doesn’t support PCIe Gen 3; therefore, it’s very suspicious that if those motherboards could support PCIe Gen 3 or not with NF200 chipset. If your motherboard adopting PCIe Gen 2 switch IC, you have to send their motherboards back to manufacturers to rework for installing new chipset in the future. In fact, it is very troublesome.
Q4. Real schedule of PCIe Gen3.
As the writer could know so far, Intel IVY Bridge & Sandy Bridge-E CPU would be around next year (2012). And for the graphics card, the schedule the writer heard the soonest would be Q2, 2012. Users who really look forward to this feature should still put much patience to wait. And do not waste your money on those bubble motherboards. A trustable motherboard manufacturer like ECS would not randomly claim unexisted function.