Stupid Marketing People

I say that with the greatest respect. I enjoy marketing, its something of a hobby. But, I do it from a creative, emotion response, approach. What I really hate are the people who impose lame-ass restrictions on products and markets with the sole intent of making your options limited, and thus forcing you into a sale at some point in the future when you requirements change. What am I talking about?

PCI-Express.

Okay, follow with me closely. PCIe supports multiple “lanes”, x1, x2, x4, x8, x16, x32. The PCIe specification allows for a card with fewer lanes to be installed in slot designed for a more lanes, and the slot will operate at the speed of the card. In other words, you can install a PCIe x4 card into a PCIe x16 slot. The slot runs at x4 speed, as you’d expect. Okay, Excellent.

The PCIe specification also allows for a slot to be wired for fewer lanes than the actual physical slot supports.  In order words, you’re motherboard can have an PCIe x8 slot, but only be wired for x4 lanes. To compliment this, if you install an x8 card in an 8x slot, which is wired for x4, the card should operate at the x4 speed, automatically downgrading to match the speed of the slot.

Let’s recap: You can have a physical x8-sized slot on your motherboard, which has been wired to perform at x4 speed. If you install an x8 card in that x8 slot, even though the slot is only wired to run at x4, the card will properly “down-grade” its performance to x4 speed. Perhaps not ideal, but I’d rather this than not have the card work at all.

So, what does this all have to do with marketers, and my despising of them?

Well, in preparation for my new RED ONE, I bought a new server with a kick-ass 12-channel SATA RAID controller. It pretty much rocks. The problem is, when running Piranha, I need a nice, fast, nVIDIA graphics card. The motherboard has 2 PCIe slots, both are physically x8 slots, one is wired at x8, the other is wired at x4. Hang with me, I’m getting to the point.

Unfortunately, NO ONE makes an PCIe x8 video card, and definitely not nVIDIA. This was disappointing, until I discovered the rules noted above. In theory, I should be able to install a x16 nVIDIA card in my x8 slot. It wont run at full speed, but PCIe x8 is still faster than AGP 8x. Not great, but its better than the ATI FireXL 2MB that is onboard (ie, worthless). Okay, great. But there is a problem. The slot on the motherboard, only allows for a x1-x8 PCIe cards.

So, onto my beef. Why the fuck can’t Mobo Manufacturers, particularly on high-end, expensive MoBos, install ALL x16 (or even x32) PCIe slots, even if they are only wired for x8, or x4. If the PCIe protocol, supports the ability to dynamically down-grade the cards to match the performance of the bus, why not allow any size card to be physically installed on the bus?

Marketing. That’s why. Okay, fine, I’m sure there is a little bit of manufacturing cost savings in not wiring slots on the board, etc. but its minimal. So, MoBo MaFa’s (Motherboard Manufactures), listen up. Spend the extra 5$ and make me a nice board with 3 PCI slots, and 3 PCIe x16 slots. Or perhaps, even 6 PCIe x16 slots. But stop jerking everyone around with Mobos’ that have 1 x4 slot, and 1 x16 slot, and nothing inbetween. Assholes!

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~ by kylemallory on March 14, 2008.

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