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Transfer Speeds Explained: Gigatransfers per Second (GT/s)#

Your PCIe bus may support, e.g., 8 GT/s. What does that mean?

Transfer speeds are usually specified in Gbit/s, Gbps, or Gigabits per second, but GT/s stands for Gigatransfers per second.

The difference has to do with the encoding of the data. Because PCIe is a serial bus with the clock embedded in the data, it needs to ensure that enough level transitions (from 1 to 0 and from 0 to 1) occur for a receiver to recover the clock. To increase level transitions, PCIe uses 8b/10b encoding, where 8-bit groups are encoded into a 10-bit symbol that is then decoded at the receiver. Thus, the bus needs to transfer 10 bits to send 8 bits of encoded data.


With PCIe Gen 3, the coding was changed to 128b/130b, which increased the effective data rate from around 80 % to more than 98 %. The communication is much more efficient.

So when talking about 8 GT/s it means that 8 Gbit/s of raw data are transferred per cycle per lane. That is 7.88 Gbit/s or 984.6 MB/s of payload data per lane.

The table below shows an overview of the most common PCIe speeds:

PCIe Generation Bit Encoding Transfer Rate [GT/s] Throughput for 1 Lane (x1) [MB/s] Throughput for 4 Lanes (x4) [MB/s]
1.0 8b/10b 2.5 250.0 1000.0
2.0 8b/10b 5.0 500.0 2000.0
3.0 128b/130b 8.0 984.6 3940.0
4.0 128b/130b 16.0 1969.0 7880.0

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