PCI Express (PCIe), the latest generation in the PCI family of protocols, is backed by an extensive ecosystem, and offers designers a high performance, general-purpose, industry-standard interconnect at relatively low cost. These inherent advantages are already driving its rapid adoption in the PC, server, and storage markets, and PCIe will inevitably find widespread use in communications systems as well.

This paper provides an overview of the PCI interconnect family and the new capabilities PCIe brings to the specification, and looks at some of the potential applications for PCIe in the network landscape. These applications include on-card control planes and central processing architectures. It also explores how the new capabilities embedded in PCIe will open the door to less obvious applications in wireline communications equipment.