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PCI Express Expansion Extended Over Fiber Optic Cable


PCI Express over fiber optic extension allows standard PCI Express cards to operate remotely from the host computer. No additional programming or drivers are required. The operation is transparent, so the PCIe cards operate as if they were installed locally in the computer PCIe slots.

Applications and Solutions

  • PCIe bus extension up to 500 m from location of the main system
  • Split-systems, disaggregated PCs and servers
  • Remote operation of any PCIe card
  • PCIe expansion to extend capabilities of the main system
  • Isolated Data Acquisition Systems (DAQ)
    • High-resolution video I/O cards
    • High-speed ADC and DAC cards
    • Multi-port isolated USB 3.1 Gen 2 hubs
  • Remote I/O and control systems operating in harsh environments
  • Isolated docking station
  • PCIe card production testing
  • PCIe operation in the temperature range from -40° to +85° C


The achievable performance of the PCIe cards installed in the extension depends on the card’s PCIe interface implementation, the card drivers, the chipset’s performance in the computer, and the cable length. The achievable performance and technical details of what affects the PCI Express performance can be found in the technical notes:

The system bandwidth is limited by the fiber optic connection. The fiber optic bandwidth is shared between all PCIe cards in the remote backplane.

Optical transceivers and cables

The systems can operate with standard pluggable multi-mode or single-mode QSFP and SFP transceivers, Active Optical Cables (AOC), and Direct Attach Cables (DAC).

PCIe Gen 3 extension:

  • 32 or 64 Gb/s cable data rate using 1 or 2 cables
  • Single cable routes 4 PCIe Gen 3 lanes with 32 Gb/s data rate
    • LC-LC duplex cable (4 PCIe lanes optically multiplexed into a single cable)
    • MPO/MPT cable
    • QSFP AOC
    • QSFP DAC
    • Fiber Optic Rotary Joint (FORJ)
  • 1 or 2 QSFP transceivers, QSFP AOC or QSFP DAC

PCIe Gen 2 extension:

  • 5 or 20 Gb/s cable data rate using 1 or 4 PCIe Gen 2 lanes
  • 1 or 4 SFPs (1 SFP per 1 PCIe lane, 5 Gb/s)
  • Multi-mode or single-mode SFP optical transceivers
  • LC-LC duplex cable

Custom backplanes and embedded solutions.

The standard extension systems can be modified to meet specific application requirements.

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