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PCIE Server NIC card Application

  • PCI-E NIC Cards provide redundant connectivity to ensure an uninterrupted network connection.

  • PCI-E NIC Cards are ideal for VM environments with multiple operating systems, requiring shared or dedicated NICs.

  • They are specially designed for desktop PC clients, servers, and workstations with few PCI Express slots available.


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PCI Express is not a Bus?


The first thing to realize about PCI express (PCIe henceforth), is that it’s not PCI-X, or any other PCI version. The previous PCI versions, PCI-X included, are true buses: There are parallel rails of copper physically reaching several slots for peripheral cards. PCIe is more like a network, with each card connected to a network switch through a dedicated set of wires. 


Exactly like a local Ethernet network, each card has its own physical connection to the switch fabric. The similarity goes further: The communication takes the form of packets transmitted over these dedicated lines, with flow control, error detection and retransmissions. There are no MAC addresses, but we have the card’s physical (“geographic”) position instead to define it, before it’s allocated with high-level means of addressing it (a chunk in the I/O and address space).


As a matter of fact, a minimal (1x) PCIe connection merely consists of four wires for data transmission (two differential pairs in each direction) and another pair of wires to supply the card with a reference clock. That’s it.

Gigabit EF Dual Port Server Adapter

Gigabit EF Dual Port Server Adapter

On the other hand, the PCIe standard was deliberately made to behave very much like classic PCI. Even though it’s a packet-based network, it’s all about addresses, reads and writes an interrupt.


There’s still the plug-and-play configuration done, and the cards are accessed in terms of reads and writes to address and I/O space, just like before. There are still Vendor/Product IDs, and several mechanisms to mimic old behavior. To make a long story short, the PCIe standard goes a long way to look like good old PCI to an operation system unaware of PCIe.


So PCIe is a packet network faking the traditional PCI bus. Its entire design makes it possible to migrate a PCI device to PCIe without making any change in software, and/or transparently bridge between PCI and PCIe without losing any functionality.


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