A Closer Look at the nForce3-250 Family



The nVidia Reference Board was shipped with the latest nForce3-250Gb chipset. Gb stands for Gigabit, which refers to the included on-chip Gigabit Ethernet. The Reference Board also included 1000MHz HyperTransport, but this is a concession to the Reference Board and is not a feature for Socket 754 boards. Basically, there are currently two 250 chipsets for Socket 754 Athlon 64:

1. nForce3-250 - basic value chipset for 754, 800HT, does not include on-chip Gigabit LAN or on-chip Firewall.
2. nForce3-250Gb - 800HT, includes Gigabit LAN and on-chip Firewall.

With the coming introduction of Socket 939, there will also be two additional versions of the chipset introduced:

3. nForce3-250Gb Ultra - 1000HT, Gigabit LAN, Firewall, Dual-Channel unbuffered, for Athlon 64/Athlon 64 FX.
4. nForce3-250Gb Ultra PRO - 1000HT, Gigabit LAN, Firewall, for Opteron.

To make the 4 versions even more interesting, the Ultra can even be used for Socket 754 processors if the manufacturer chooses. In fact, there are designs for top Athlon 64 boards that nVidia says will use the Ultra chipset to provide 1000 HyperTransport to Socket 754. This would, theoretically, bring added overclocking headroom to current Athlon 64 CPU's. In fact, the nVidia Reference Board that we received used the Ultra chip and provided 1000 HyperTransport. We can confirm that dropping the multiplier to 9.5, and dropping HT to 800 allowed us to reach 250 FSB easily, which was the FSB limit on the Reference Board - all at default voltage.

To add even more to the pot, all of the nF3-250 versions of the chipset can be used in Multiple Processor designs. If the manufacturer chooses, any of the chipsets can be used theoretically in 1, 2, 4, 8, or even 16 CPU setups. Of course, the capabilities of the processors available for any given board will have an impact on how far you can go with multiple CPUs.

With the nForce3-250, nVidia also takes a giant leap in features to make the new chipset second to none. Features that are now part of the single-chip nForce3-250Gb MCP include 8 SATA ports, 4-channel SATA RAID plus 4-Channel IDE RAID, on-chip Gigabit Ethernet, on-chip Firewall, and software 6-channel audio.

Index nForce3-250 Specifications
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  • Reflex - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    #39: In my honest opinion, the lack of Soundstorm is an improvement. The APU they were using was a lot of marketing, but relatively poor quality. Even the 'cheap' off brands had better chips available, and nowadays with Via's Envy line the Soundstorm is very, very out of date. I think its absence represents the reality that nVidia did not see enough of a benefit in trying to become a full fledged audio processing company, and since most motherboards without nForce chipsets have other solutions it wasn't a huge value-add(many NF2 boards did not even utilize the nVidia solution).

    Any serious enthusiast would be using a Turtle Beach, M-Audio(or other Via Envy solution), or Audigy anyways, at least if sound quality mattered to them at all. Soundstorm was decent in its time, but they did not try to compete when the next generation arrived(Audigy/Envy) and they weren't top of the line when they were introduced(TB Santa Cruz had that crown).

    Its a risk/reward scenerio, and the rewards did not outweigh the risks of the heavy investment it would take to keep up with the big boys.
    Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    Why did I say it is mostly for servers, and also it would be good for laptops. erg! You get the point. Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    I don’t understand why they don’t have fire wire. It can’t be that hard to include it, and MB manufacturers would be very happy with that since they wouldn’t need to mess with another chip and leads. It would also help in the whole SFF and laptop areas.

    For all the people wining about the sound, I still think they are aiming this at servers and workstations. Plus gamers would want the pci sound anyways, I know people who add pci sound even with the awesome nforce 2 sound, go figure.

    Finally, enough bitching about the typos, once is enough. I don’t see you with a reference board in hand!
    Reply
  • jlfowler78 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I'm disappointed there's no PCI-Express support. What's the deal with that? When will nVidia make a chipset like the n3-250 plus PCI-Express? Geez, even SiS has a good chipset w/ PCI-E. Reply
  • xt8088 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Have at another NForce 3 250 review at http://www.hexus.net/content/reviews/review.php?dX...

    This review mentioned the lack of APU, and it had the benchmark tests.
    Reply
  • Shinei - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I'm fairly certain that this is just a generic board to test the chipset out with, it's not going to be the final product put out by GigaByte or Abit... After all, most nForce2 boards have 3 DIMM slots, while the GigaByte GA-7Nxxx series all had 4...

    Now that nVidia's shown that they can still make motherboard chipsets, I think it's time they showed us they can still make video cards that rock your pants off.
    Reply
  • Regs - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Wow @ 2.4 Ghz. But Only 2 DIMMs for RAM? Please tell me other boards will have more than 2! Im running with 2x 256 + 1 x 512 Dimm. It would kill my bank account to waste another 100 bucks on ram. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    #31 - You ever tried to make a gaming engine multi-threaded? How about making it really multi-threaded so that you might get a 50-100% boost in performance by adding a second processor? I won't say it can't be done, but it is a *major* change in design philosophy and coding. My experience with multi-threaded applications is that they are much more complex to get working properly. The only game so far that I've heard of trying to use multi-threading was Quake 3, and it didn't work very well. I think the estimate of 3 or more years before games start taking advantage of multi-threading is pretty optimistic, but we'll see. Reply
  • Doormat - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Wow, this is the first product in a few months that has been interesting (though, the coming NV40/R420 war will be fun to watch).

    The gigE interests me because I'm looking at a home media network that would be seperate from my normal network, and looking at putting out simulatenous DVD/HDTV feeds over the network was kinda iffy on 100Mbit networks (HD can be up to 19Mbit/s, DVDs are probably anywhere from 2Mbit/s to 4 or 5Mbit/s).

    My only gripe is that the socket 939 chips arent ready yet. I'm waiting for those to show up before I make a move.
    Reply
  • wassup4u2 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Then again, the NF3-150 reference board had a "working" AGP/PCI lock... Reply

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