In the real world, the goal of putting more power into less space has been thwarted by heat dissipation since the first steam engines. In 1999 the Porsche car company was faced with getting more horsepower out of their air-cooled, 3-liter engine. Acknowledging that heat was their issue, Porsche moved from an air-cooled solution to a water-cooled solution, in concert with a dry oil sump injection system. This allowed Porsche to have extremely high performance for the engine size, with a nimble car that continues to have a power-to-weight ratio that still beats all comers in the market. This same dilemma occurred in the computing world with many believing in the idea of “more is better” when it came to cooling. This resulted in bigger heat sinks with more surface space, bigger fans with faster speeds, larger air plenums to move the air, and numerous other cooling techniques. In the end, the law of diminishing returns has had its impact, leaving systems with insufficient cooling and fan noise exceeding 89 decibels, in many cases.
PCIe Gen 5 is a key technology for driving transportable or edge AI systems to higher performance, especially those with demanding space, environmental or cooling needs. But AI program managers should evaluate their technology suppliers’ Gen 5 implementations to ensure they fully realize the technology’s benefits.