You may never have heard of a technology called ExpEther, but it's a fair bet that it'll become as much a part of computer networks in the near future as Ethernet is today.

The NEC-developed protocol takes a normal PCI Express interface and stretches it across networks to run over a distance of several kilometres.

Business applications

That may not sound like a big deal, but the ability to connect most any component, such as a monitor or hard drive, directly to various computers at distances up to two kilometres will likely appeal to many large companies.

NEC says existing network set-ups can handle the ExpEther traffic with a single adapter at each end. Moreover, it could be used to create wired networks of devices in a home with a central hub server.

So far, NEC has signed up 16 companies to the ExpEther Consortium with a view to promoting the technology as a new networking standard.