The special interest group responsible for governing desktop and server PCI bus standards, the PCI SIG said yesterday that it has approved the formation of a workgroup to explore the proposal put forward last month (CI No 3,492) by Hewlett-Packard Co, Compaq Computer Corp and IBM Corp, for a faster version of PCI local bus. The proposed specification, dubbed PCI-X, defines a 64-bit bus that runs at speeds up to 133 MHz, and is designed to be backward-compatible with current PCI-based systems. After a 45- day review cycle, the workgroup will make a recommendation to the PCI SIG Steering Committee as to whether or not to allow the development of the specification to go ahead. If they get the go ahead, the specification will follow the PCI SIG’s normal review and approval process as outlined in the PCI SIG bylaws. A spokesperson for the PCI SIG said it was likely the specification would be approved and that products incorporating the new bus architecture could be expected to be rolled out by the middle of 1999. Last week, Intel, who was deliberately kept out of the PCI- X trio, unveiled details of its next generation I/O server architecture, which it said would replace PCI-X by the year 2000 (CI No 3,502).