PCI Express 7.0 devices targeting 2026 release at the earliest

Inconceivably fast SSDs and other PC components expected at some point but… it will be a while


In less than three years PC users will be able to buy SSD drives that perform 17 times faster than the best PCIe 4.0 models of today (such as the pictured Samsung 990 Pro). That is the plan, anyway. (Image: Samsung)


Come on, you know how things are in the magical world of computer hardware standards: it does not really matter whether a new one has just started making sense, it does not matter that there’s not a single device supporting the one after that, it’s the next next one that’s truly exciting. That seems to be the case with the PCI Express standard, as the PCI Special Interest Group just released a new specification draft for PCI Express 7, which is the next next version of the most recent one commercially available. The first SSDs offering something close to the performance promised by PCIe 5.0 have only been around for a few months, there’s no roadmap for any PCIe 6.0 products yet, but… sure, let’s move on to PCIe 7.0, why don’t we? It’s not like we need reasons or anything!

Kidding aside, based on specs alone PCI Express 7 will be an impressive step forward for one of the most important underlying technologies of modern computers of all kinds. People following the development of PCIe know that each new version almost always goes for double the bandwidth of the previous one and that seems to be the case here: PCIe 7.0 promises to deliver up to 128 GT/s, which is 8 times more than what PCIe 4.0 ever offered and 4 times more than PCIe 5.0 is capable of. This means that PCIe 7.0 can, in theory, deliver up to 512GB/s of bi-directional throughput using a x16 connection or 128GB/s using an x4 connection.

When PCIe 7.0 devices arrive, they will be able to work just as fast using just one lane as today’s PCIe 5.0 devices using four lanes. Consumers will be able to connect way more devices or peripherals, all operating at full speed. (Image: PCI-SIG)


In practical terms, this means that a PCIe 7.0 SSD operating on 4 lanes at its full available bandwidth would be able to reach sequential data transfer speeds of over 120GB/s, which is way faster than what the fastest consumer PCIe 5.0 SSDs can deliver today (around 14GB/s). Even half that number would be quite the jump in storage performance, assuming that the tech industry also catches up in terms of NAND Flash memory chips and controllers (let alone the necessary cooling solutions for such packages). Too bad that other PC components operating over PCI, even ones most people would expect to be more demanding – such as graphics cards – do not yet fully utilize the available bandwidth of a PCIe 4.0 connection at x16, let alone PCIe 5.0 or PCIe 6.0.

The most important thing PCIe 7.0 will probably do for PCs of the future – along with the necessary upgrades in CPUs and accompanying chipsets – is greatly increase the number of available PCI lanes, which would in turn allow for a higher number of demanding components to all operate at top speed (while also being more power efficient). The ample bandwidth offered by PCIe 7.0 will also be massively important in the enterprise market, where demanding applications at scale – AI, anyone? – require advanced networking capabilities and high-speed bi-directional data throughput.

Funnily enough, graphics cards do not actually need the impressive jump in bandwidth that PCIe 7.0 will provide: even the best GPUs in the market today do not take advantage of PCIe 5.0 yet, let alone PCIe 6.0. (Image: Rafael Pol, Unsplash)


The PCI Special Interest Group expects that the PCIe 7.0 standard will be finalized in 2025, at which point its specifications will be delivered to members of the group for review. These would obviously be the companies that actually design and manufacture components based on PCI, as well as platform holders (such as Intel or AMD) who need to get on board in order for any such standard to be properly supported. Storage chip manufacturers and controller chip manufacturers will have to do their bit before actual PCIe 7.0 prototypes reach the testing phase, too.

It’s rather telling that the PCI-SIG expects its Compliance Program for PCIe 7.0 – which every such product is usually certified through – to go live no sooner than 2027, so there will likely be no official PCIe 7.0 components or peripherals released until then. Some PCIe 7.0 products may meet specs and break cover in late 2026, though, and just receive certification later (as is often the case e.g. with Wi-Fi products and new versions of that standard). It will be a long while, in other words, before people can get their hands on actual PCIe 7.0 hardware – and even longer before affordable such hardware becomes available to consumers – so, in the mean time, PCIe 6.0 products will have to do. Funny how that works, no?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Kostas Farkonas

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

Veteran reporter with over 30 years of industry experience in various media, focusing on consumer tech, entertainment and digital culture. No, he will not fix your PC (again).

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