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Feb 9th - 5 Uses for Your PCI-express Slots

If you’re looking for faster devices, chances are they aren’t connected via PCIe. The PCIe interface is essentially able to communicate directly with your computer’s motherboard as opposed to getting caught up in the protocols of the operating system. This amounts to a very high-speed interface with huge potentials for bandwidth. However, the all-powerful PCIe interface is not at the forefront of most consumer minds. Typically, PCIe’s demand comes from niche high-performance computing areas like video editing that require consistent high-speed data transferring, but with Intel’s new Thunderbolt PCIe interface making its way onto PCs and Macs alike, PCIe is quickly becoming a much more popular way to handle data. With its potential for lightning fast speeds and intuitive peripheral connectivity, it’s definitely an asset that more should consider. Here are 5 ways you can use those PCIe slots that you may not have considered:

Video – One of the most commonly known uses for PCIe is video. The post-production industry notoriously processes gigs and gigs of data regularly using high-performance GPU or Graphics Processing Unit rigs. GPUs cards work with a computer’s CPU to carry out compute-intensive operations such as video processing and physics simulations. These days you can buy external PCIe enclosures that connect using Thunderbolt, allowing on-the-go post-production professionals the power they need in a compact package. GPUs typically require a 16x speed PCIe slot (the highest amount currently available) whereas most other card types typically require fewer slots.

Bitcoin Mining – Bitcoin mining is the act of running verification processes on hardware in order to validate transactions and provide security for the public ledger of the bitcoin network. In exchange for the computing power used to uphold the Bitcoin network, individuals are rewarded with Bitcoins, which are steadily becoming the most popular, depoliticized, digital currency. Often this means running GPUs or specialized Bitcoin mining PCIe cards in external PCIe chassis. Although the growing popularity of the Bitcoin has made mining generally much less fruitful for the average miner, it is still a viable currency worth investing in.

RAID cards – RAID (controller) cards are used to manage hard disk drives (HDDs) or solid-state drives (SSDs) in computer storage arrays. The drives can be consolidated into one logical unit or multiple partitions that interact as a measure of protection. These can be installed directly to the PCIe slots on a computer system’s motherboard or into an external PCIe chassis.

Sound cards – Sound cards are a used by music producers and film composers that need to expand their audio capabilities. Typically, sound cards improve the output quality of audio data while simultaneously allowing users to add other audio components for multimedia applications. Just like those listed above, sound cards can be installed either directly on the motherboard or into external PCIe expansion chassis.

PCI-e SSD's – PCIe Solid State Drives are a more recent technological development that employs the use PCIe communication and combines it with the already incredibly fast flash-based SSD technology to deliver drives with unmatched read/write speeds. Sound cards can be mounted directly to the motherboard or connected externally. There are also some external audio interfaces with built-in sound cards that connect via Thunderbolt to provide users with an all-in-one audio solution.