PCI Express 6.0 version 0.5 released for initial designs
PCI-SIG, the conglomerate responsible for ratifying future revisions of PCI Express, has released the 0.5 version of PCIe 6.0. While this isn't the final version of the standard, this early version is important for giving suppliers and OEMs the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the technology in their products. The new standard will use PAM-4 (Pulse Amplitude Modulation with 4 levels) to deliver 64 GT/s of bandwidth. PCI Express 6.0 continues the now well established practice of doubling bandwidth from the previous technology, with PCIe 6.0 doubling bandwidth over 5.0, which is double that of 4.0, and so on. The result is that a single lane of PCIe 6.0 will have roughly the same bandwidth as 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0, or 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0!
The PCI Express standard saw a period of stagnation over the last decade or so, as PCIe 3.0 or even 2.0 was sufficient for almost any GPU configuration. Only with the advent of super-fast, super-affordable NVMe drives has there been a need for anything faster in the mainstream. According to PCI-SIG, I/O requirements should double approximately every 3 years (sort of a Moore's law for SSDs if you like), and the group intends to keep pace with these ever increasing demands.
Interested in a PCIe SSD or GPU with these new speeds? You might be kept waiting a while. While the standard is set to launch in 2021, it was 2 years after the release of PCIe 4.0 that the technology finally made its way onto consumer motherboards. If PCIe 6.0 follows the same timeframe, it may be some time before we can get our hands on the next-gen technology.