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3GIO, widely heralded as the successor to PCI and AGP expansion slots?
Old 27th August 2002
3GIO, widely heralded as the successor to PCI and AGP expansion slots?

March 1, 2002

According to the PCI Special Interest Group, a number of upcoming technological developments will require a faster internal input/output scheme.

Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has a history of popularizing computer expansion standards. The company caused an explosion in the number of USB devices on the market when its original iMac took off, and it caused a similar uproar in the digital video community with FireWire .

Now, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) may be poised to push another standard called 3GIO, widely heralded as the successor to PCI and AGP expansion slots. Those slots, located on a computer's motherboard, allow insertion of video cards, networking cards and so on to enhance the computer's capabilities.

Pundits have begun to speculate that Apple is planning to incorporate 3GIO into the much-anticipated revision of its aging high-end Power Mac architecture.

3GI0 stands for "third-generation input/output." Originally called Arapahoe (named for a workgroup that included Compaq, Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) , IBM (NYSE: IBM) , Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Microsoft), the standard is expected to start shipping with desktop computers in 2004. Development tools and specifications are likely to appear in 2003.

The PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG), of which Apple is a member, is attempting to push the 3GIO standard while retaining support for the still-emerging PCI-X standard. The group is telling users that PCI-X is optimized for high-end applications used on servers and workstations, while 3GIO is targeted toward general-purpose applications that run on desktops and mobile devices.

Need for Speed

According to the PCI-SIG, a number of upcoming technological developments will require a faster internal input/output scheme.

"Technologies such as CPU speeds that will exceed 10 GHz, faster memory speeds, higher-speed graphics, 1-Gigabit and 10-Gigabit LAN, 1394b, InfiniBand fabrics and others will drive the need for much greater internal system bandwidth," according to 3GIO product literature.

Apple already includes a direct bus to the system controller on current Power Mac G4 systems, providing sustained throughput of 215 Mbps. The company claims that bottlenecks in most other PC architectures cause a slowdown to 133 Mbps when using certain applications.

Current specifications for 3GIO show data running directly from an expansion device (such as a graphics card) through a memory bridge and into the CPU, avoiding any potential I/O bridge bottlenecks.

The PCI-SIG claims 3GIO sports an initial frequency of 2.5 Gb/s/direction, which is expected to increase as silicon technology advances to 10Gb/s/direction (the theoretical maximum for signals sent via copper wire). 3GIO purportedly also will feature 100 MB per second per pin data transfer, compared with AGP 4X's 10 MB per second per pin throughput.

HyperTransport Complement

AMD is developing its own high-speed interconnection standard, independent of 3GIO, dubbed "HyperTransport." This I/O standard, which AMD officials said is not intended to compete with either 3GIO or PCI-X, will deliver 12.8 GB/sec.

Apple is a member of the HyperTransport Consortium, lending credence to speculation that the company will choose to integrate some form of AMD's technology into its high-end systems. NVidia, which supplies virtually all graphics cards for current desktop Macs, is also a member of the HyperTransport Consortium.

Major announcements regarding HyperTransport and possibly 3GIO are expected to take place at the Networld+Interop conference, to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, from May 7th to 9th.
Old 27th August 2002
Gear Nut
Kev's Avatar
๐ŸŽง 15 years
The move from Nubus to PCI was painfull but worth it in the long run.

A move from PCI to 3GIO would be just as painfull.

Do we have an expected time frome for this? Could it be during the life line of HD. I still haven't moved to HD or bought a replacement for my 9600/G3.

My crystal ball is overloaded at the moment so I'm going to stick where I am for at least another six months.

96k, HD, Lightpipe MUX, OSX ... the plugs and now perhaps 3GIO. This time I'm going to let you guys go first.
Old 27th August 2002
Lives for gear
๐ŸŽง 15 years
Pretty far ahead

It's going to be a while before we actually see 3GIO motherboards. I'd say 2004. Look at how long it's taking just to do Serial ATA Interfaces for Hard Drives so you can imagine what this is going to entail.

There's no doubt that we need the bandwidth. With so many high bandwidth buses in computers the current PCI limits are already becoming restricting.
Old 27th August 2002
I am diggin your overviews guys, thanks!

Keep the opinions flowing...

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