How PCIe® Technology Enables IoT

  • Posted on: 31 January 2020
  • Al Yanes, PCI-SIG Board Chair and President

The Internet of Things (IoT) Industry is rapidly growing in popularity and breadth of applications. According to IDC, by 2025, the total amount of data created by IoT devices in one year is expected to reach 79.4 zettabytes, across 41.6 billion connected devices (CRN). IoT is entering every aspect of our lives, from consumer to industrial to the enterprise. Within those devices, PCIe® architecture offers low latency and power saving among other benefits, which help support the IoT ecosystem as it becomes increasingly multifunctional.

How is PCI Express® Technology Deployed in IoT?

Devices deployed at the node or edge of the data center need a high-speed interconnect for data centers and data transfer. Traditionally, PCI Express technology has been a dominant standard for server blades and workstations. The need for sending data at higher throughput, discoverability, lower latency, low power and with a high level of maturity and reliability has triggered the interest of deploying PCIe technology in the IoT domain. PCIe technology also offers flexible form factors in the case of the M.2 connector and the Mini PCIe (mPCIe) card.

PCI-SIG® Form Factors in IoT

The PCI Express M.2 connector is a next-generation form factor designed for ultra-light, thin and power efficient mobile platforms, such as tablets, portable gaming devices, smartphones and devices requiring SSDs—maintaining the correct capacity for IoT design. Its extensible design provides scalability for multiple technologies and host interfaces, including Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, NFC, 2G-5G, SSD and WWAN. For most IoT designs, there is a need to combine sensors, networking and controls of the system into a single, smaller form factor.

A smaller form factor option for PCIe technology is mPCIe. Initially, mPCIe cards plugged internally into the motherboard to save space in laptops, but their applications have become exponentially greater in industrial applications where real estate is not as limited. While mPCIe tech requires a larger footprint than M.2 does, many network appliances in the enterprise networking market are still using mPCIe as the data card of choice in their products. There’s no need to reconfigure an entire system to M.2 when the mPCIe mobile broadband PC card is already in place and capable of integrating with 4G, 5G and LTE. Beyond the various form factor options, PCIe technology also helps with the demand for low power.

The Need for Power Management

Most IoT devices have strict requirements for power management, making low power and high throughput a primary requirement for the IoT market. PCI Express technology offers a highly reliable and robust architecture that supports device discovery and an enumeration of a broad range of devices using its low power capability. PCIe technology maintains device wake-up and exiting the sleep state while offering tremendous power savings that are critical for IoT devices.  

The low exit latencies and power savings of the L1 sub-states feature, combined with PCI Express’ load/store architecture and the 32GT/s speed through upcoming PCIe 5.0 specification, provides the optimal interface for use in mobile devices, storage, compute acceleration, networking and other high-speed devices well into the future.

Learn More About PCIe Technology and IoT

PCIe technology is a high-performance interconnect solution with low power options, making it a compelling choice for data transfer for tablets, mobile devices, gaming devices, routers, automobiles, industrial nodes and more. As IoT products continue to shift closer to the cloud, it is important to future proof by adopting PCIe technology as your interconnect of choice.

If you would like to learn more about how PCIe technology plays a role in IoT, watch our video.