PCI : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary


PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect). The way the various cards talk to the CPU (Central Processing Unit) on the motherboard. Most PCI cards are 32-bit. Some high performance SCSI (Small Computer System Interface) cards are 64-bit and need special large PCI slots. Multiport Ethernet cards can be 64-bit.

PCI-X (Peripheral Component Interconnect — extended) is a variant of PCI that runs twice as fast.

PCIe (aka PCI-E (Peripheral Component Interconnect — Express) or PCI-express) is an Intel variant of PCI that is at least twice as fast but which uses incompatible connectors with 2, 4, 8, 12, 16, or 32 lanes. 8 Lanes is comparable to AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port). Most video cards today are some version of PCI-express X16.

PCI has been revised four times. You must match the version between your video card with the motherboard slot version — PCI-E 1.0, PCI-E 1.0a, PCI-E 2.0, PCI-E 2.1, PCI-E 3.0. You can put a PCI-E 2.1 in a PCI 1.1 slot, but it will run in degraded mode. You cannot put a PCI-E card into a PCI slot, even though the are compatible as far as software goes.

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