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Decades of Compatibility and Evolution of PCI Express with Richard Solomon

Perhaps no computing technology has been as consistently-compatible and yet cutting edge as PCI Express (PCIe). This Gestalt IT Tech Talk features Richard Solomon of the PCI-SIG discussing the journey of PCI through decades of compatibility and innovation with Stephen Foskett. Uncover the story behind the backbone of modern computing systems and gain insights into the future of PCIe’s evolution.

Connect with Richard Solomon

Richard Solomon is the Technical Marketing Manager, PCI Express Controller IP at Synopsys and the Vice President of PCI-SIG. You can connect with Richard on LinkedIn and find out more about Synopsys on their website. Learn more about standardization from PCI-SIG on their website.

Decades of Compatibility and Evolution of PCI Express

PCI is the standard for interconnection of peripherals in modern computers, from portable devices to the datacenter and HPC. This discussion, recorded at the Flash Memory Summit, features Richard Solomon, Technical Marketing Manager at Synopsys, and Stephen Foskett as they explore the remarkable journey of PCI Express (PCIe) and its pivotal role in modern computing systems. With decades of compatibility and innovation under its belt, PCIe has emerged as an essential technology powering seamless data center operations.

As the standards group dedicated to developing the PCIe specification, the PCI-SIG ensures that diverse hardware components collaborate cohesively, from CPUs to SSDs, graphics cards, and more. The conversation centered on the need for standards to enable flawless interactions across an array of devices and platforms.

Solomon highlighted the astonishing fact that the PCI-SIG has maintained backward compatibility for decades. A testament to the organization’s commitment, devices designed in the early 2000s remain functional in modern PCIe 5.0 systems. This continuity is pivotal, as it ensures that legacy hardware and new technologies can seamlessly coexist, offering both familiarity and future-proofing to end-users.

The conversation traversed through PCIe’s recent evolution, starting from the 16 gigatransfers per second (GT/s) in PCIe 4.0 to the latest 64 GT/s in PCIe 6.0. Solomon shared insights into PCIe 7.0, boasting an incredible 128 GT/s speed and building upon the foundation laid by its predecessors. The transition to higher speeds while maintaining backward and forward compatibility exemplifies the delicate balance between innovation and stability.

Solomon delved into the expansion of PCIe into optical domains. The newly formed optical work group under the PCI-SIG aims to simplify optical connectivity across different speeds, allowing for extended reach and resiliency where needed. While the industry is not at the point where copper can’t handle the speeds, optical solutions are being nurtured to create a more versatile ecosystem that accommodates various technological requirements.

As the conversation drew to a close, Solomon shed light on the upcoming Super Compute 23 event in Denver, where attendees can explore the latest PCIe developments and demonstrations. The legacy of PCI Express continues to thrive, paving the way for enhanced compatibility and innovation in computing and beyond.

This Tech Talk illuminated the exceptional journey of PCI Express, showcasing the power of standardization in the ever-evolving world of technology. With backward and forward compatibility woven into its DNA, PCIe has not only facilitated seamless hardware integration but also exemplified the balance between innovation and stability. As PCIe embarks on new frontiers, the industry anticipates the continued impact of this pivotal technology on the future of computing.

Learn more about standardization from PCI-SIG on their website. You can follow PCI-SIG on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

About the author

Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett is an active participant in the world of enterprise information technology, currently focusing on enterprise storage, server virtualization, networking, and cloud computing. He organizes the popular Tech Field Day event series for Gestalt IT and runs Foskett Services. A long-time voice in the storage industry, Stephen has authored numerous articles for industry publications, and is a popular presenter at industry events. He can be found online at,, and on Twitter at @SFoskett.

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