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Use of PCI card(s) on a notebook system

1. Introduction

This article describes the way of connecting and use one or more PCI cards on a notebook system - using products from our 'XPRS' line.

PCI card(s) are connected outside of the notebook system, through PCI Express interface, using cables.

There are 2 sides of the connection:
- peripheral side - where the PCI card(s) are mounted
- host side - mounted to the laptop / notebook system

On the peripheral side the products featured are:
- XPRS-PCI-X1 - allows mounting of a single PCI card
- XPRS-PCI-X3 - allows mounting of up to 3 PCI cards

The above listed product pages include accessories - power supplies, enclosures.

The host side uses - XPRS-HOST-EC . The laptop / notebook system has to have an ExpressCard slot - type34 or type54.

Information on ExpressCard interface and form-factor is available on this link .

A search on Amazon.com , under the category - Laptop Computers , with the search term - laptop computer with expresscard, show more than 220 choices.

We are offering a low cost ExpressCard based notebook system to help with upgrading.

We have the SSI2 product line which includes products supporting PCI cards through USB interface.

The work of SSI2 products through USB has limitations.
If you want to use your PCI card(s) in a way 'as if' on a motherboard, please use our xprs-pci-.. products.

garrow.gif Order XPRS-PCI-X1 or XPRS-PCI-X3


2. Host side assembly with XPRS-HOST-EC

The XPRS-HOST-EC is mounted in a notebook computer system with an ExpressCard slot.

xprs-host-ec product kit [Click to enlarge]

The kit of XPRS-HOST-EC product includes cables and type 34/54 host card(s).

Connect cables on XPRS-HOST-EC, and insert card in the slot of the notebook system.

connecting cables to xprs-host-ec [Click to enlarge]

Plug XPRS-HOST-EC card, and latch in ExpressCard slot.

The XPRS-HOST-EC kit includes 2 cables with length of 1.6ft / 0.5m.

1.5ft / 0.5m cables and 3ft / 1m cables [Click to enlarge]

We offer 3ft / 1m cables set - to extend the length.

Please note that the cables carry 3.3V which can power the mounted on the other side of the cable peripheral card.
Using longer cable may reduce the total current available for the mounted peripheral card.

3. Peripheral side assembly with XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3

The XPRS-PCI-X1 connects with our XRPS-HOST-EC card, and allows using of one PCI peripheral card outside of a computer system.

xprs-pci-x1 product [Click to enlarge]

The XPRS-PCI-X3 connects with our XRPS-HOST-EC card, and allows using of up to 3 PCI peripheral cards outside of a computer system.

xprs-pci-x3 product [Click to enlarge]

Connect the cables to the connectors on XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3.

connecting cables to xprs-pci-x1 [Click to enlarge]

connecting cables to xprs-pci-x3 [Click to enlarge]

Make sure that the XPRS-HOST-EC card is inserted, and the host computer system is powered on.

There are 2 ways to connect the 2 cables to the connectors on XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3.

The on-board LED has to be lit - powered on.
In the wrong way of connecting the cables to the connectors - the on-board LED is not lit, the LED is not on.
In such case remove both cables, switch positions, and plug to the other connectors.

The image below shows the right way - the on-board LED is lit, the LED is on.

connecting cables to xprs-pci-x1 - right [Click to enlarge]

garrow.gif Order XPRS-PCI-X1 or XPRS-PCI-X3


4. Choosing a power supply and an enclosure for XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3

There are the four voltages provided for use on the PCI bus: +3.3V , +5V , +12V , -12V. The maximum currents defined in the speck are: +3.3V/7.6A , +5V/5A , +12V/500mA , -12V/100mA. Full details on the PCI bus are available on - Wikipedia, and TechFest.

To find the voltages used and the type of a Power Supply, please check - PCI card - finding the voltages used .

As a minimum all of the PCI cards require either 3.3V, or 5V, or both voltages to be supplied for the PCI card(s).

The image below shows 5V power supplied to XPRS-PCI-X3 for the PCI card(s) - by our PWR-5V product.

connecting pwr-5v to xprs-pci-x3 [Click to enlarge]

PCI cards may optionally use also +12V and -12V for powering.

If a PCI peripheral card needs +12V and -12V with current consumption of up to 50mA, you can add the ISA-PWR power module.

add power module to xprs-pci-x3 [Click to enlarge]

If a PCI peripheral card needs +12V and -12V with high current consumption, you can add the ISA-PWR-XR external power supply.

add ext. power to xprs-pci-x3 [Click to enlarge]

The power jumpers positions may need to be moved - please check the User's Guide, the chapter on XPRS-PCI-X1 or XPRS-PCI-X3, for details.

The XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3 together with the PCI card(s) may be mounted in an enclosure.

The image below shows putting one PCI card with XPRS-PCI-X1 in our ISA-PCI-B1 enclosure.

putting xprs-pci-x1 in - isa-pci-b1 [Click to enlarge]

Longer and larger PCI card may be put in our ISA-PCI-B2 enclosure.

The image below shows putting multiple PCI cards with XPRS-PCI-X3 in our ISA-X3-B2 - double length enclosure.

putting xprs-pci-x3 in - isa-x3-b2 [Click to enlarge]

Shorter PCI cards may be put in our ISA-X3-B1 enclosure.

After connecting the cables and the power supply, you can dynamically insert/remove PCI card on XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3.

Some operating systems does not support hot insert/ remove of PCI Express based peripherals. In such case you need to:
- power off host system
- mount XPRS-HOST-EC in the system
- connect cables to XPRS-PCI-X1 / XPRS-PCI-X3 - in the proper way
- mount PCI card(s)
- connect power supply
- power on host system

5. Ordering

If having a single PCI card, click on - XPRS-PCI-X1 .

If having multiple PCI cards, click on - XPRS-PCI-X3 .

The above listed product pages include the host card and accessories - power supplies, enclosures.

In general you can place an order online on our web site, pay by credit card, and the order will be shipped to you.

We offer also ways of payment by - Paypal, bank transfer in US dollars, and bank transfer in Euros.

You can get estimated pricing on our web site when you select a product and go to checkout . Based on your address , shipping service, and total weight you can get an estimation of the shipping fee - before submitting a payment information.

Normally we ship by UPS.
We can arrange shipping by air mail(with insurance) or express mail / ems , for reducing of the shipping fee - if you assume the delay in delivery and the risk of loss.

6. Additional ways of use

Our products are highly modular and allow use in a wide variety of ways.

When having one or more PCI cards, you can get xprs-host-dt and connect to a PCI Express desktop system.

garrow.gif Order XPRS-PCI-X1 or XPRS-PCI-X3


When having a notebook with ExpressCard slot, you can get and use:
- xprs-px-x1 with a PCI Express -X1 card
- xprs-px-x16 with a PCI Express -X16 card
- xprs-cb with a PCMCIA CardBus card
- xprs-cpcie with a Compact PCI Express or PXI Express card
- xprs-ec with an ExpressCard card

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