PCI-SIG Wraps Up CopprLink Cabling Standard: PCIe 5.0 & 6.0 Embrace Wired Connectivity

May 2, 2024 by our News Team

The PCI-SIG has announced the completion of their latest cabling standard, CopprLink, which is designed to work with PCIe 5.0 and 6.0 and offers improved performance for internal and external connections, with plans for an optical cabling standard in the works.

  • Improved performance for various applications, including motherboard-to-backplane connectivity and chip-to-chip PCIe connections.
  • Less signal loss compared to PCB traces, providing a more reliable cabled standard for internal connections.
  • Support for high-speed data transfer applications with the use of the SFF-TA-1032 connector.

The PCI-SIG, a special interest group focused on developing and promoting PCI Express (PCIe) technology, has announced the completion of their latest cabling standard called CopprLink. This new standard is designed to work seamlessly with PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 6.0, providing system vendors and assemblers with the ability to use copper cables to connect devices within a system or even between whole systems.

CopprLink is actually comprised of two standards that fall under the same brand name. The first is the “CopprLink Internal Cable” standard, which enables the use of PCIe cables up to 1 meter in length while maintaining PCIe 5.0 and PCIe 6.0 signaling. This internal standard replaces older PCIe cabling standards and offers improved performance for various applications, including motherboard-to-backplane connectivity and chip-to-chip PCIe connections.

While CopprLink doesn’t replace the PCIe CEM connector, it provides a more reliable cabled standard for internal connections, as copper cables have less signal loss compared to PCB traces. The PCI-SIG expects CopprLink to gain traction in the storage and data center markets, where PCIe cabling is already widely used.

To complement the internal CopprLink standard, the PCI-SIG has also developed an external cabling standard that supports the same PCIe 5.0/6.0 data rates. External CopprLink cables can reach up to 2 meters in length, allowing for board-to-board connections within a rack and short rack-to-rack PCIe connections.

The external CopprLink standard utilizes the SFF-TA-1032 connector developed by SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association). This robust connector comes in x4, x8, and x16 configurations, making it suitable for high-speed data transfer applications. The PCI-SIG anticipates that the AI/Machine Learning markets will primarily adopt this version of the standard due to their need for moving large amounts of data between systems. However, the storage market will continue to rely on an updated version of the existing PCI Express External Cabling standard.

Looking ahead, the PCI-SIG is also working on a new optical cabling standard. Although this project is still in its early stages, the goal is to create an optical technology-agnostic standard that can be paired with various optical technologies.

With the completion of the internal and external CopprLink standards, the PCI-SIG aims to expedite the production and deployment of these cables. Since these standards focus solely on cabling and do not require extensive development efforts, the group hopes that their members will showcase products based on these standards at upcoming developer conferences and industry events. This will pave the way for hardware vendors to quickly adopt and implement the new cables.

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Technology Explained

PCB: Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are the backbone of the modern computer industry. They are thin boards made of a non-conductive material, such as fiberglass, with a thin layer of copper on top. This copper layer is etched with a pattern of electrical pathways that connect the various components of a computer together. PCBs are used in almost every electronic device, from computers to cell phones, and are essential for the functioning of these devices. They provide a reliable and efficient way to connect the components of a computer, allowing for faster and more reliable communication between them. The use of PCBs has revolutionized the computer industry, allowing for smaller, faster, and more reliable computers.

PCIe: PCIe (Peripheral Component Interconnect Express) is a high-speed serial computer expansion bus standard for connecting components such as graphics cards, sound cards, and network cards to a motherboard. It is the most widely used interface in the computer industry today, and is used in both desktop and laptop computers. PCIe is capable of providing up to 16 times the bandwidth of the older PCI standard, allowing for faster data transfer speeds and improved performance. It is also used in a variety of other applications, such as storage, networking, and communications. PCIe is an essential component of modern computing, and its applications are only expected to grow in the future.

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