Introduction

AMD is not going to offer a PCI Express based chipset for its Opteron line. They are, instead, relying on third party partners to provide core logic for motherboards.

Stepping back to look at the professional space, it seems quite odd that NVIDIA would have taken so long to provide a PCI Express based Opteron chipset in light of the fact that their flagship Quadro FX 4400 graphics card is PCI Express. This seems like the kind of graphics card that would have made sense to be paired with dual Opterons and an NVIDIA chipset. Until now, anyone who wanted more than a desktop board for PCI Express would have been forced to go with an Intel platform where NVIDIA had previously not been invited.

Of course, all that will change very soon, now that NVIDIA has launched their nForce Professional line of core logic chipsets. These single chip core logic solutions for AMD Opteron based servers and workstations will bring the professional level of support that NVIDIA offers with its professional nFroce 3 line to a PCI Express based setup.

A whole host of other features are offered as well, including an implementation of the SATA II spec, which supports the connection of SATA 3Gb/s devices, support for 10 USB 2.0 devices, and much more. Shortly, we will also be able to find both NVIDIA based Intel motherboards as well, but without the advantages of HyperTransport, it will be hard for NVIDIA to offer the kind of advantages the nForce Professional line has.


The New nForce Professional
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  • smn198 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    It does do RAID-5!
    http://www.nvidia.com/object/IO_18137.html

    w00t!
    Reply
  • smn198 - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #18
    It can do RAID-5 according to http://www.legitreviews.com/article.php?aid=152

    Near bottom of page:
    "Update: NVIDIA contacted us to let us know that RAID 5 is also supported on the 2200 and 2050. They also didn't hesitate to point out that when the 2200 is matched with three 2050's, the RAID array can be spanned across 16 drives!"

    However, nidia's site does not mention it! http://www.nvidia.com/object/feature_raid.html

    I wonder. would be nice!
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Friday, January 28, 2005 - link

    #50,

    each lane in PCIe consists of a serial up link and down link. this means that x16 actually has 4Gb/s up and down at the same time (thus the 8Gb/s number everyone always quotes). Saying 8Gb/s bandwidth without saying 4 up and 4 down is a lil misleading because that bandwidth can't move in one direction when needed.

    #53,

    4x SATA 3Gb/s -> 12Gb/s -> 1.5GB/s + 2GbE -> 0.25GB/s + USB 2.0 ~-> .5GB/s = 2.25 GB/s ... so this is really manageable bandwidht. Especially as its unlikely for all this to be moving while all 5 gig up and down of the 20 PCIe lanes are moving at the same time.

    It's more likely that we'll see video cards setting aside 30% of the PCI Express b/w to nearly idle (as, again, upload is often not used). Unless using the 2 x16 SLI ... We're still not quite sure how much bandwidth this will use over the top and through the PCIe bus. But one card is definitely going to send data back up stream.

    Each MCP has a 16x16 HT link @ 1GHz to the system... Bandwidth is 8GB/s (4 up and 4 down) ...
    Reply
  • guyr - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    Can anyone explain how these MCPs work regarding throughput? What kind of clock rate do they have? 4 SATA II drives alone is 12 Gbps. Add 2 GigE and that is 14. Throw in 8 USB 2.0 and that almost an additional 4 Gbps. So if you add everything up, it looks to be over 20 Gbps! Oops, sorry, forgot about 20 lanes of PCIe. Anyway, has anyone identified a realistic throughput that can be expected? These specs are wonderful, but if the chip can only pass 100 MB/s, it doesn't mean anything. Reply
  • jeromechiu - Thursday, January 27, 2005 - link

    #12, if you have a gigabit switch that supports port trunking, then you could use BOTH of the gigabit ports for faster intranet file-transfer. Hell! Perhaps you could add another two 4-port gigabit adaptors and give your PC a sort-of-10Gbps connection to the switch! ;) Reply
  • philpoe - Wednesday, January 26, 2005 - link

    Being a newbie to PCI-E, if I read a PCI-Express FAQ correctly, aren't the x16 slots in use for graphics cards today 1 way only? Too bad the lanes can't be combined, or you could get to a 1-way x32 slot (apparently in the PCI-E spec). In any case, 4 x8 full duplex cards would be just the ticket for Infiniband (making all that Gbe worthless?) and 4 x2 slots for good measure :). Just think of 16x SATA-300 drives attached and RAID. Talk about a throughput monster.
    Imagine Sun, with the corporate-credible Solaris OS selling such a machine.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    #32 henry, and anyone who saw my wrong math :-)

    You were right in your setup even though you only mentioned hooking up 4 x1 lanes -- 2 more could have been connected. Oops. I've corrected the article to reflect a configuration that actually can't be done (for real this time, I promise). Check my math again to be sure:

    1 x16, 2 x4, 6 x1

    that's 9 slots with only 8 physical connections. still with 10 lanes left over. In the extreme I could have said you can't do 9 x1 connectios on one board, but I wanted to maintain some semblance of reality.

    Again, it looks like the nForce Pro is able to throw out a good deal of firepower ....
    Reply
  • ceefka - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    Plus I can't wait to see a rig like this doing benchies :-) Reply
  • ceefka - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    In one word: amazing!

    Some of this logic eludes me, however.

    There's no board that can fully exploit the theoretical connectivity of a 4-way opteron config with these chipsets?
    Reply
  • SunLord - Tuesday, January 25, 2005 - link

    I'd pay upto $450 for a dual cpu/chipset board as long as it gave me 2x16 1x4 and 1-3x1 connectors... as I see no use for pci-x when pci-e cards are coming out... Would make for one hell of a workstation to replace my aging athlon mp using tyan thunder k7 pro board. Even if the onbaord raid doesn't do raid 5 I can use the 4x slot for a sata2 raid card with little to no impact! Though 2 gigabit ports is kinda overkill. mmm 8x74GB(136GB) raptor raid 0/1 and 12x500GB(6TB) Raid 5 3Ware/AMCC controller.

    I can dream can't I? No clue what I would do with that much diskspace though... and still have enough room for 4 dvd-+rw dual layer burners hehe
    Reply

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