PCIe 6.0 promises super-fast speeds in 2021

USB and to a lesser Thunderbolt often get the lion's share of attention when it comes to data transfer speeds between devices. But when it comes to ferrying data between a computer's internal components, PCI Express, more popular in marketing by its abbreviated "PCIe" name, is the name of the game. In order to catch up with growing demands for faster transfer of large files, the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) announced that, in two years, the spec will double its data rate up to 64 GT/s.

That's not a typo, mind, but one of the less used units to describe data transfer speeds. What the PCI-SIG is claiming is that PCIe 6.0 will be able to run 64 gigatransfers per second. In more practical terms, it can transfer data at a speed of 256 GB/s, at least when using a PCIe x16.

Speed isn't the only selling factor that PCIe 6.0 tries to present. It also promises better power efficiency even when it should be using up more power for that increased speed. And to dispel any premature fears, the SIG says the new spec will be backward compatible with all older PCIe versions.

It might be too easy to swoon over these promises but the PCI-SIG does temper expectations with one disclaimer. The spec isn't expected to launch until 2021. And that's if everything goes as scheduled.

Realistically speaking, it will take far longer for PCIe 6.0 to actually become useful in the wild. It needs both PC makers and component makers to adopt the new spec for it to actually make a difference in the market.