nVidia nForce3 ChipsetAnand Shimpi will be talking much more about chipsets at launch, but since this is our first real look at the nForce3 chipset, we should talk a bit about key features. One of the most exciting, and also controversial, features of the Opteron/Athlon64 is AMD’s decision to include the memory controller on the CPU. There are tremendous potential speed advantages to this solution, but the complexity of manufacturing also increases significantly. This can dramatically lower yields, which are becoming increasingly important in a competitive CPU environment.
nVidia’s nForce3 PRO is the only one of the Opteron/nForce3 chipsets in a single-chip package. Both VIA K8T800 and SiS755 will use the more familiar Northbridge/Southbridge arrangement. Key features for nForce3 PRO are:
We also see nVidia including some more familiar options, like the much-talked-about AMD Hypertransport first used in their nForce chipset, 6 USB 2.0 ports, and AC’97 with an SPDIF interface. Undoubtedly, the consumer versions of nForce3 will have even more features, but as a base chipset, nForce 3 is certainly competitive with Intel’s latest 875/865 chipsets.
- Single-Chip Solution — Revolutionary single-chip solution designed for the AMD Opteron CPU enables higher-quality, full-featured motherboards and delivers maximum performance with the lowest latency. The single-chip design also means less power consumption and less heat dissipation.
- Dual-Channel DDR400 Memory — Our reference board includes full support for Dual-Channel DDR ECC memory, and the Athlon64 version will also support non-ECC memory
- Integrated SATA/IDE Raid — Provides support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 0+1, enabling the highest disk data transfer rates for highest system and application performance, and the highest performance fault tolerant solution for maximum data integrity. NVIDIA RAID supports both SATA and ATA-133 disk controller standards.
- Enterprise-Class Networking — Delivers the required manageability features required by IT professions while maintaining the highest level of reliability, quality, and performance. Also delivers the highest throughput for network transfers and lower CPU utilization, resulting in lower total cost of ownership.
- 64-Bit Architecture — NVIDIA nForce3 Pro provides advanced processing capabilities and system innovations for the new 64-bit AMD processor architecture.
More information on nForce3 PRO is available at www.nvidia.com/page/nforce3.html.
If you are interested in learning more about the features and architecture of Opteron and Athlon 64, you can access Anand’s excellent 3-part article at www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1815.