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  IDF in full swing, 3GIO and more 
  Feb 26, 2002, 12:00pm EST 
By: Sander Sassen

Welcome back. We initially planned on doing an update last night but due to some problems with our digital still camera all the photos we took during the day were lost. We’ll be sure to take some new photos during the course of the day though as most of the products that featured on yesterday’s photos are still on display today. What else is new? Actually a lot of new technology that’ll debut in PCs over the next few months/years got a much broader introduction, one of which is 3GIO.

3GIO actually stands for Third Generation I/O and basically is meant to be the successor to the PCI standard we use today. During the past decade, PCI has been a very successful I/O interconnect standard that has become the de-facto standard for expansion cards. However, demands of emerging and future expansion cards such as Gigabit Ethernet and multi-channel serial ATA hard disk controllers will exceed the bandwidth and scalability of the PCI interface and thus a new I/O interconnect standard had to be developed.

3GIO is a I/O interconnect standard that has a different approach than PCI, it is not based on a parallel interface but rather uses a number of serial I/O lanes to interconnect devices. The available bandwidth can be scaled up- or downward by simply using a larger number of these lanes to connect the device, the typical bandwidth of each lane is 2.5Gbps. Future generations of 3GIO will offer 2x or 4x the amount of bandwidth per lane, the ability of scaling upwards to these higher bandwidths has already been provided for in the 3GIO standard today so 3GIO is a lot more future-proof than PCI was when it was first introduced.

Small form factor PC

Fig. 2. A 3.5" x 13" x 13" PC that is able to compete with much larger desktop systems in performance but also in noise levels. Click on the image for a larger version.

Another seminar that we attended discussed how to build small form factor high performance PCs, something which is one of the biggest challenges today for both the home enthusiast building their own PCs but certainly for the OEMs and PC manufacturers. Building a small, yet powerful and quiet PC that is able to compete with much larger desktop systems in performance but also in noise levels is something that has been quite a challenge for many. The solutions Intel has developed to enable this use a new form factor for the motherboard and a whole new case layout and offer performance and noise levels comparable to much larger systems and all of that from a small 3.5" x 13" x 13" PC.

I've also been to a large number of other seminars and have had a few one-on-one meetings with key people from Intel, topics that were discussed are the upcoming 845 chipsets for Pentium 4, the processor roadmap and support for other FSBs such as the soon-to-debut 533MHz FSB. Unfortunately these were all NDA meetings, so although I'd love to tell and show you more I can't for obvious reasons.

Sander Sassen


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