How to optimise your CPU choice to maximize your PCIe lanes

PCIe lanes

Posted by Geoff Undrell on: in: Technical Articles

The number of PCIe lanes you can harness has the potential to open up valuable expansion opportunities in a Rack PC. We work hard to ensure our customers maximise on the PCIe lane options available to them when choosing from Intel’s line-up of CPUs. Importantly, the number of PCIe lanes on offer varies across Intel’s broad spectrum of processors, so the challenge comes with finding the right fit for your requirements.

Performance meets capacity

Generally speaking, Intel’s standard Desktop i3, i5, and i7 CPUs offer a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes, plus the chipset. While this is more than suitable for many of our customers who don’t have a need for any additional capacity, it can put restrictions on those looking for greater expandability and flexibility from their PCs. A single graphics card can, for example, need 16 lanes by itself, and therefore seriously limit the scope for building on the unit’s performance.

Intel’s Desktop i9 processors, however, offer up to 44 PCIe lanes. This provides a substantial 175% increase in PCIe capacity over the usual processor options, making it ideal for customers seeking to accommodate multiple graphics cards within a single unit. Performance can therefore easily be optimised, and for the price of the i9 chip, we believe the investment is readily rewarded by the performance output achieved.

Performance not a priority?

If performance isn’t a necessity, but capacity is, then there isn’t really a Desktop equivalent that fits the bill. But if you’re working with Workstation and Server grade systems, or are simply seeking a low-power Intel CPU that maintains a high number of PCIe lanes, we’d recommend the new Xeon W-Series of CPUs. Even the entry-level processors in this series, such as the W-2125, offer 48 PCIe lanes.

The Xeon W chips are only compatible with Intel’s C422 chipset motherboard, but considering the sheer number of PCIe slots available for use, we can understand why such a high-quality board is a necessity.

We’re ready and raring to advise our customers how to get the very best out of your Intel processors and their PCIe lanes. If you’re looking for the perfect mix of performance and capacity from your PCIe lanes but don’t know where to start, give us a call and we’ll match you with a PC solution that more than suits your needs.