AMD's next-generation desktop graphics cards from the Radeon HD 7000 product family, also known under the code name of Southern Islands, will feature PCI Express 3.0 support, according to the latest rumors that have reached the Web.
The PCI Express 3.0 standard was made available in November of 2010, and it doubles the bandwidth available to devices using it, from 500MB/s per lane in each direction for PCIe Gen 2 to 1GB/s per lane in each direction.
As a result, a PCI Express x16 Gen 3 slot can provide a total bandwidth of 16GB/s in each direction, compared to the 8GB/s of its predecessor.
According to a recent report published by Donanim Haber, all of AMD's upcoming desktop graphics cards will feature PCI-Express 3.0 x16 bus interfaces, but these will also be compatible with Gen 1 and Gen 2 PCIe motherboards (the total bandwidth available will be lower in this mode).
AMD's next generation of Radeon graphics cards will be built using TSMC's 28nm fabrication process and will most probably use an improved version of the VLIW4 architecture that was introduced in the Cayman core.
Even though AMD will add PCI Express 3.0 support to its Southern Islands GPUs, it still remains to be seen if Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards require such a high bandwidth in the first place.
Furthermore, at this point in time, it is still uncertain when the first platform to support PCI Express 3.0 standard will arrive in the retail market.
Intel's Sandy Bridge-E was the first processor expected to feature this technology, but recent reports claim that Intel is considering dropping PCIe Gen 3 support from the feature list as it hasn't had any hardware to test the CPU's compliance with the standard.
If these rumors are indeed true, then PCI Express 3.0 will arrive once Ivy Bridge is launched, but Intel 22nm SNB die shrink isn't expected to make its appearance until March or April of 2012.