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MSI New Z68A-GD80 Swims in PCI-Express 3.0 Fame

btarunr

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#1
While Sandy Bridge-E LGA2011 processors will come with integrated PCI-Express 3.0 hubs, they're still a couple of quarter financial years away. Meanwhile, MSI jumped the gun on its latest socket LGA1155 Intel Z68-based motherboard with not only support for Intel's upcoming 22 nm Ivy Bridge LGA1155 processors, but also the PCI-Express 3.0 hubs that the new processors come with. While Ivy Bridge has PCI-E 3.0 hub, not just any LGA1155 motherboard can give you PCI-E 3.0 support. It requires slots that are compliant with the new specification, and needs PCI-E 3.0 compliant external switching chips. MSI has both, on its new Z68A-GD80 motherboard, and with it, the bragging rights of being the world's first PCI-E 3.0 compliant motherboard.

PCI-Express 3.0 gives you twice the interface bandwidth as PCI-Express 2.0, which means that PCI-Express 3.0 x8 has the same bandwidth as PCI-Express 2.0 x16. But before you celebrate, let's remind ourselves that you also need a PCI-E 3.0 compliant GPU to make the slots operate at Gen 3.0 speeds. Installing PCI-Express 2.0 GPUs on Gen 3.0 won't run the slots at Gen 3.0 speeds. That aside, the Z68A-GD80 is a sufficiently-equipped enthusiast motherboard featuring 14-phase VRM for the CPU, dual-channel DDR3-2133 support, two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 with populated), a third PCI-E x16 wired to the Z68 PCH, running at PCI-E 2.0 x4 speeds, and a couple of PCI-E 2.0 x1 and legacy PCI. There are three internal SATA 6 Gb/s ports; eSATA, USB 3.0, make for the rest of the connectivity. There is full-fledged display connectivity, with Lucid Virtu support. Expect this board to be out any time soon.

 
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#2
two PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (x8/x8 with populated)
So if you put two PCI-E 2.0 x16 cards in there, would they each run at 2.0 x16 as that would be the equivalent of 3.0 x8, or would the amount of lanes still be cut in half? Hopefully that made sense.
 

btarunr

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#3
So if you put two PCI-E 2.0 x16 cards in there, would they each run at 2.0 x16 as that would be the equivalent of 3.0 x8, or would the amount of lanes still be cut in half? Hopefully that made sense.
If you install two PCI-E 2.0 x16 cards in there, they'll run at 2.0 x8 speeds each. You need a PCI-E 3.0 compliant GPU to make the slots run at PCI-E 3.0 speeds.
 
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#4
If you install two PCI-E 2.0 x16 cards in there, they'll run at 2.0 x8 speeds each. You need a PCI-E 3.0 compliant GPU to make the slots run at PCI-E 3.0 speeds.
That is very stupid, but it technically makes sense.
 

btarunr

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#6
According to MSI, even with PCI-e 2.0 cards you still get a 20% performance improvement:

http://www.facebook.com/MSI.Europe
There's no way that's technically possible. Maybe on PCI-Express 2.1 GPUs such as ATI Radeon HD 5000 series and Radeon HD 6000 series (which use PCI-E 3.0-like data encoding), but not just any PCI-E 2.0 GPU. Certainly no PCI-E 2.0 NVIDIA GPU.
 

btarunr

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#8
I know for a fact that PCI-e Gen2 devices can perform faster on a PCI-e Gen3 enabled mainboard :)
Link me to the benchmarks, show me if they're achieving those improvements on PCI-E 2.0 GPUs (and not PCI-E 2.1 GPUs like Radeon HD 5000/HD 6000).
 
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#11
If you install two PCI-E 2.0 x16 cards in there, they'll run at 2.0 x8 speeds each. You need a PCI-E 3.0 compliant GPU to make the slots run at PCI-E 3.0 speeds.
Alright, that's what I was thinking, but hoping otherwise.
 
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#12
well now im even more glad i went with this board