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Nvidia Launches nForce 7-Series for Intel Processors

Date: 2007-12-18

   Nvidia Corp., a leading developer of graphics and multimedia processors, on Monday plans to formally unveil its new family of high-end core-logic sets for Intel processors. The new nForce 780i...

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Nvidia Corp., a leading developer of graphics and multimedia processors, on Monday plans to formally unveil its new family of high-end core-logic sets for Intel processors. The new nForce 780i SLI is the first chipsets to support so-called enthusiasts system architecture (ESA), however, after the plethora f issues with previous-gen core-logic, Nvidia no longer positions its 780i as an ultimate product for overclockers.

The Nvidia nForce 780i SLI and nForce 750i SLI are compatible with various Intel’s processors in LGA775 form-factor, including dual-core and quad-core chips that are made using 45nm process technology and that support 1333MHz processor system bus (PSB). Both core-logic sets feature dual-channel DDR2 memory controller, but the 780i SLI sports better memory overclocking capabilities along with so-called enhanced performance profiles. Nvidia nForce 780i also features 3-way SLI technology as well as a little more advanced I/O functionality, while the nForce 750i SLI only supports typical 2-way SLI, but promises to be considerably more affordable.

In fact, Nvidia nForce 780i SLI core-logic is not exactly new; it consists of three chips: nForce 680i SLI SPP, nForce 570 MCP as well as nForce 200 hub, which brings PCI Express 2.0 support to the year-old platform.

Nvidia Launches nForce 7-Series for Intel Processors

Nvidia nForce 780i SLI scheme

The nForce 680i SLI SPP is still made using 90nm process technology and potentially has all the distinctive features the previous-generation product had, e.g., dual-channel DDR2 memory controller with memory overclocking capabilities to 1200MHz, unpredictable processor system bus overclocking capabilities as well as PCI Express x16 slot support.

The nForce 570 MCP (media and communication processor) is the chip that Nvidia used to call nForce 680i MCP last year and the one that was marketed under nForce 570/590 SLI name a little earlier. The capabilities of this I/O controller are well-known and include support for PCI Express x16 bus, PCI Express x8 bus, 6 Serial ATA-II ports with RAID capability, 2 Parallel ATA ports with RAID capability, 10 USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet controllers, 5 PCI slots as well as 7.1 high-definition audio and so on.

While the key two chips of the new nForce 780i SLI set seem to be familiar, the new platform will still support features like ESA as well as improved Nvidia software overclocking tool, thus, may provide different experience from the nForce 680i SLI. It is uncertain whether the new model 780i SLI eventually supports processors with 1600MHz PSB, which are due in 2008.

The most interesting part of Nvidia nForce 780i SLI core-logic is nForce 200 hub, which can provide up to four PCI Express 2.0 slots (that Nvidia calls “downstream ports”) for graphics cards. The “downstream” ports on the nForce 200/nForce 780i SLI have been configured to provide two x16 PCIe 2.0 downstream ports, “although they are also configurable as 4 x8 PCI Express 2.0 ports”, according to Nvidia.

Nvidia Launches nForce 7-Series for Intel Processors

Nvidia nForce 200 scheme

The hub seems to be connected to the rest of the system using PCI Express x16 bus overclocked to 4.50GHz (which Nvidia proudly calls “the Nvidia interface”), which gives peak bandwidth of 7.20GB/s (in case of 16 lanes), a little less than PCI Express 2.0 standard bandwidth of 8GB/s (in case of 16 lanes and 5.0GHz clock-speed). Therefore, PCIe 2.0 graphics cards will still be limited with 7.20GB/s bandwidth when they access system memory. Nevertheless, with four PCI Express 2.0 controllers in a single chip, the nForce 200 may provide certain advantages when it comes to rapid interaction between different graphics processors via a bus.  It is unclear why Nvidia decided not to implement native PCI Express support into the key chips of its new chipset.

Nvidia claims that Asustek Computer, as well as EVGA and XFX will have Nvidia nForce 780i SLI motherboards “on shelves” in December, whereas other mainboard makers, Gigabyte and MicroStar International, will release them in January. Platforms based on Nvidia nForce 750i SLI from Asus, Gigabyte and MSI will be available in January.

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