PCI-SIG® Cabling Work Group Spotlight

  • Posted on: 23 February 2023

PCI-SIG® is comprised of multiple technical work groups (TWGs) that work towards the development of PCI Express® (PCIe®) technology. Work groups are open to all PCI-SIG member company representatives and allow companies to further the PCIe specifications. PCI-SIG Cabling Work Group Chair Sam Kocsis of Amphenol explains the benefits of being involved in the Cabling Work Group in the following interview.

  • What is the goal of the Cabling Work Group?
    • The goal of the Cabling Work Group is to help promote a healthy ecosystem for PCIe external cabling. The group strives to maximize interoperability and promote backwards compatibility, while also looking forward for flexible pathways to upgrade and scale to support future signaling rate needs and broad market implementations.
  • Why was the Cabling Work Group formed?
    • The Cabling Work Group was originally started with the goal to define compliance parameters and procedures for externally cabled PCIe links. This included the connector form factor, cable management interface and electrical performance criteria for compliance.
  • What specifications/features is the Cabling Work Group currently working on?
    • The Cabling Work Group is currently working on its fourth-generation release, a PCIe External Cabling 5.0 specification covering both 16 GT/s and 32 GT/s data rates. At this point, the form factor (SFF-8614, MiniSAS-HD), and the cable management interface, are able to rely on an established a strong market baseline from the groups 3.0 specification. The Workgroup has been primarily working out the details to extend the physical reach and optimize the electrical performance expectations consistent with the current deployment base. At the same time, the Workgroup continues to seek inputs and evaluate evolving market needs for externally cabled PCIe links.
  • How is your work group involved in the development of PCIe specifications?
    • The Cabling Work Group strongly relies on the output from the Electrical Work Group, Card Electromechanical (CEM) Work Group and Serial Enabling (SEG) Work Group.
  • What are some significant accomplishments of the Cabling Work Group?
    • In June of 2022, the work group completed version 0.5 of the PCIe 5.0 cabling specification. At the 2022 US DevCon the Cabling Work Group had the opportunity to be featured at my “Update on MiniSAS-HD External Cables” session, which highlighted major milestones over the history of the work group and provided an overview of key efforts currently underway. We hope to continue these types of presentations at future events and DevCons in order to continue informing members on our latest Work Group updates a promote engagement from new members with their points of view.  
  • How do you keep members engaged?
    • The Cabling Work Group maintains a weekly invitation schedule, subject to change based on topic requests. As part of the continued evaluation of market needs, the work group has discussed external cabling topologies, system and interconnect impedance expectations, alternative IO form factors and options for supporting active and optical cabling—all within the last year.
  • How does the Work Group benefit from member involvement?
    • The Cabling Work Group benefits greatly from the diverse perspectives of PCI-SIG membership. Platform architects help determine when strict backwards compatibility is helpful and when it’s more attractive to offer flexibility with cabling options. The targets for electrical performance compliance are significantly dependent on the expectations from end-users and system integrators. The work group has several experts in test and measurement, as well as cable and connector manufacturing, that work together to develop the specification requirements to best meet those objectives.
  • How can PCI-SIG members get involved in the Cabling Work Group?
    • The Cabling Work Group is open to individuals from all PCI-SIG member companies. If interested, please request access via Causeway.

If your company is interested in joining PCI-SIG and helping to develop future PCIe specifications, become a member today.