The PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) announced it's planning to create a new cable standard based on the PCI Express 3.0 standard. This new interface offers a thin cable that will take on Intel's Thunderbolt, it will likely support up to four parallel lanes for a bandwidth of 32Gbps (4GB/s) and the capability to support power to peripherals at levels likely less than 20W. Details still have to be decided but if all goes well products based on the PCI Express cable standard may hit the market before June 2013.
The new spec is aimed at consumer uses for desktop and mobile PCs and tablets as well as their peripherals such as external storage devices. The PCI SIG has a separate cable group, chartered in 2005, that has already delivered a spec for the 2.5 and 5 GT/s versions PCIe 1.1 and 2.0, supporting distances up to eight meters and aimed for use in servers and other data center equipment.
Representatives of the PCI SIG declined to comment in any way on Thunderbolt. However, the initiative is clearly aimed at similar applications including external disk and solid-state drives.
"This will help proliferate PCI Express into new business opportunities," said Al Yanes, president of the PCI SIG, declining to give examples of how it will be used.
"The big issue here is proprietary versus industry standard," said Nathan Brookwood, principal of market watcher Insight64 (Saratoga, Calif.). "It's not clear third parties will have access to Thunderbolt on the same basis they get access to PCI Express," he said.