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Riser Card Tutorial
September 6th, 2008

A basic guide to riser card functionality and use; for first time user new to bus extenders.

What is a riser card/bus extender and why would I need one?

3-slot PCI/PCI Express/PCI 2U Riser Card

3-slot PCI/PCI Express/PCI 2U Riser Card

A riser card is a right angle expansion card that is used to extend a slot for card in computer to make room to plug it in. They are most commonly used in low-profile, 1U and 2U rackmount chassis or embedded systems. Riser cards cards plug into their respective bus (they are available for PCI, PCI-X, AGP, AGP Pro, PCI Express, ISA, or other busses) and rotate the peripheral cards, that are plugged into the riser card, so that they are parallel with the motherboard. Riser cards are available in 1-slot passive risers all the way up to 3-slot passive riser cards for 2U rackmounts. For users that only have one PCI slot available on their motherboard but require more, active riser cards are available with PCI bridge chips on them to expand the PCI bus.

Flexible Right Angle Bus Extender
Flexible Right Angle Bus Extender

Bus extenders are also riser cards however they do not always rotate a card so it is parallel with the motherboard. They are used like extension cords for power outlets. They basically extend the bus to another location so it is more convenient for the user. Customers who have low profile applications such as 1U or 2U rackmount systems, embedded systems, or custom projects where their peripheral cards plugged into the onboard expansion slots are too tall for their application. Or if that particular application requires them to relocate their card to a different portion of their enclosure. Riser cards and bus extenders can adapt your expansion slots so that they work for you.

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