Intel’s next-gen Raptor Lake chips have been the subject of a flurry of rumors lately, and the latest is some controversy surrounding support for PCIe 5.0 SSDs.
This is based on a leaked slide that comes from some sort of Intel workshop, or at least supposedly does, although it looks genuine enough, and is backed up by a second photo posted to Twitter by HXL.
Intel RPL PPTincreased Processor CountD5 5600 Add PCH PCIe LanesNo PCIe Gen5 M2?🧐 pic.twitter.com/hsmRMpAbytJuly 5, 2022
As we’ve already pointed out, the slide apparently tells us several things about Intel’s next-gen silicon, including that Raptor Lake will support both DDR4 and DDR5 system RAM (and not just DDR5 alone – giving people more choice, and crucially, cheaper options for fill these memory slots).
What’s also detailed is the PCIe configuration for 700-series motherboards (the high-end mobos for Raptor Lake), which will supposedly remain the same as the current 600-series models (Alder Lake).
There will be 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes, along with four PCIe 4.0 lanes for an M.2 SSD, but no dedicated PCIe 5.0 lanes for a solid state drive.
Now, here’s where it gets a little trickier, because no dedicated lane in the design of 700 series motherboards doesn’t mean you can’t use a PCIe 5.0 SSD with them.
Normally, the 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes mentioned above are connected to the discrete graphics card slot, but what can be done is that the motherboard manufacturer can split these lanes.
In this case we would see those 16 lanes split into 2 x 8 lanes, one of which is for the PCIe 5.0 storage (theoretically 2 x 4 for a pair of M.2 slots) – but of course you’re taking it from the GPU in this case, which has a reduced complement of 8 lanes.
Analysis: Is this really something to be concerned about?
What does this mean in the real world? Well, with current generation graphics cards, i.e. RTX 3000 and RX 6000 GPUs, having 8 instead of 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes won’t really make any difference, and no difference in performance levels.
The question mark comes with high-end graphics cards as we don’t know what they’ll look like – and what they might require (well, we have a fair idea with the rumours, but we can’t take any of it for granted). Although it actually seems quite unlikely that having 8 PCIe 5.0 lanes could derail even a high-end scenario – although there is little doubt about this to some extent, at least when it comes to high-end cards.
Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see, but the reality is that the noise and concern we’ve seen being conveyed by this PCIe 5.0 configuration reveal is likely to become a storm in a teacup.
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