PCI Express (PCIe) in Portable Devices and Consumer Devices
Intel first defined and deployed the PCI Express (PCIe) serial computer expansion bus for computing and server applications in the early 2000s. The PCI-SIG has now expanded to over 900 member companies and is getting ready to ratify the 4th official generation of PCIe, expected to be available for industry adoption in 2016 or 2017. The new standard will double data throughput over PCIe’s 3rd generation standard to 16 gigatransfers/second.
The driving technical needs for a high-speed interconnect bus in servers and computing platforms are fairly obvious. Modern systems have gigabytes of high-speed data constantly shuttling from processors to graphics cards and memory inside the platform. This also applies to consumer devices like gaming consoles and remote memory drives. But it’s only in recent years that similar data demands have led to a need for PCIe in portable devices.
There are three important trends that make adding PCIe to low-price consumer devices possible.
In particular, companies that design digital cameras, DSLRs, and video cameras are adopting PCIe Gen1 and Gen2 widely to use their high-speed throughput and low price points.
With 4K video and image sizes nearing 20 megapixels, these features rely on high-speed data transport to clear caches, stream data into memory, and rapidly move images out of the device into external memory. To provide the best possible user experience, PCIe interconnects are used between the image sensor and processor, and again between the processor and 4K codecs. This enhances important features like image capture time, rapid-fire images, and high resolution video (e.g., 4K and slo-mo).
Silicon Labs is at the forefront of supporting consumer companies with PCIe. Our Si5211x PCIe clock family includes very small package Gen1, Gen2, and Gen3 clocks, and is very low power and cost effective. It is already widely adopted in production consumer devices around the world.
Because it supports PCIe Gen1, Gen2 and Gen3 timing requirements, it can be reused as products go from one generation to the next. The devices operate at very low power consumption to conserve battery life, and support down spread spectrum for EMI reduction.
We also provide a free software tool to measure PCIe jitter compliance of PCIe clocks. The tool provides jitter compliance reports for any supplier clocks, and is already supported and used widely by other PCI-SIG members.