Introduction

Ever since its launch in the fall of last year, nForce 4 has brought us SLI capability. Configurations for PCI Express slots in nForce 4 SLI motherboards must be selected by using a paddle that can be flipped to allow for either 2 x8 connections or full bandwidth for one with the other disabled. There is added flexibility on an nForce 4 SLI motherboard, but this flexibility comes with some limitations. Today, NVIDIA sheds the shackles of the paddle selector and limited bandwidth with the new nForce 4 SLI X16 chipset.



In addition to the increased bandwidth and ease of use come quite a few extra niceties. Boards based on nForce 4 SLI X16 will have more I/O options on top of the added PCI Express bandwidth. The introduction of a new enthusiast part will also push prices down on existing products and NVIDIA will begin selling its current nForce4 SLI solution at mainstream prices. Aside from cheaper being better, this should increase adoption of the SLI platform giving the mainstream user some reason to care about SLI. With this also comes value for options like 6600 and 6200 SLI. Everything seems to be coming up roses for NVIDIA's dual GPU business right now with ATI's Crossfire still waiting in the wings.

With this introduction also comes quite a surprise from Dell. NVIDIA will be supplying core logic to the previously Intel-only volume computer manufacturer, making nForce4 SLI X16 the first non-Intel chipset for dudes to get in their Dells. This is quite a big announcement and will really help to boost NVIDIA's already successful chipset business. This announcement also gives some glimmer of hope for Dell as non-Intel hardware on the motherboard may mean that Dell is capable of making good decisions in the processor department as well. While it is unlikely that we will see AMD based Dell systems anytime soon, it's nice to know that the thin line between volume discounts and unfair business practices is clear enough to allow Dell to make the right choice for performance once in a while. At least, now one of their chipset vendors supports AMD as well as Intel.

Unfortunately, we don't yet have a board to test for performance numbers on the new configuration, but that won't stop us from talking about what's new under the hood.

The New AMD and Intel Chipsets
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  • quanta - Thursday, August 11, 2005 - link

    Why does AMD version of nForce4 north bridge only has 18 PCI Express lanes instead of 20, especially when the AMD north bridge doesn't have to include DDR2 memory controller? It sounds like yet another crippleware move to 'justify' the purchase of some upcoming nForce4 Pro chips. Reply
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    As others have stated, you gain nothing from x16 vs x8 PCIe. I would honestly be surprised if anything is even gained for GPGPU applications, but it is possible.

    Any performance differences would be easy enough to examine, even right now. An SLI motherboard can be configured for x8/x8 even if you're only using a single card. I know that all of the benchmarks I ran came out virtually identical. I'll be trying again when my 7800GTX shows up, but I'm willing to bet I'll get the same result. So you don't like switching the "paddle"? Just set it for dual cards and be done with it.

    The new chipset is however a great move by Nvidia. Marketing works. Either Dell fell for the marketing, or Dell understands that their customers will fall for the marketing (probably the more likely).

    I know that I have no plans to upgrade my A8N-SLI Deluxe just to get a board with the new chipset. I'm perfectly content sitting on what I have until I need to upgrade to M2. Who knows what chipset I'll look at then. Hopefully I'll have a lot of choices when I'm ready (ATI, Nvidia, ULi, maybe even Via [lol]).
    Reply
  • ElJefe - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    16x is freakin retarded marketing crap.

    so is pci-e. thats also marketing crap.

    Sli is ALSO marketing crap. It was designed for you to spend 2x the money. "oh no its not, i can buy a cheap upgrade to my current card etc etc" No you cant. You want a better graphics card. *buzzer sound!* No you cannot get that card, because it isnt the same one as before. "Oh, well i have 6800 ultra's" *buzzer sound again* No point in spending for 2nd card even here, the 7800 will outperform it anways, and wouldnt you want 1 card for less heat and wattage consumption vs 2 that are now outdated?

    SLI does give you a few things, one it makes you spend 20-60 dollars more for a mobo that has one, PLUS it gives you a 30-40 watt more power draw even if you use only 1 card! AND! I'll throw in a bonus: A super hot northbridge that if passively cooled, can exceed 70 degrees celsius. BUY ONE NOW!

    What crap. I just called Asrock US sales office and they said they are about to release the m1695 board. At least one company doesnt force someone to get crap that is useless.

    agp 4x is hardly broken by all but the 7800, we have 4x slots on pII boards.....

    8x agp hasnt been tapped, BUt you SHOULD buy 2 pci x16 lane cards NOW!!!!!
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I want to disagree - PCI-E is not marketing crap, it is a way to put again all the external devices on a single bus again.
    While PCI will die under many kind of use the current PCI cards are able to generate (think PCI video cards, think PCI RAID cards, think PCI gigabit cards), the PCI-E are easily able to accept it. While the "top" of the line PCI-E (16x) offer no usable bandwidth advantages over the 8x cards, they still offer more power to the card than the 8x slots, and again more power than AGP slots and maybe even than AGP-Pro slots. Just think at all the last-generation ultra-super-extra video cards and their TWO 4-pin connectors to get extra juice. How about a AGP card that needs not two 4-pin connectors for extra power, but three? PCI'E 16x might have solved that problem.
    Also, have you seen PCI cards (network cards mainly) that are long and thin to reach to the end of the PCI slot? a PCI-E 1x card can have a third of the PCB, allowing a better airflow, costing less, and so on. PCI-E is surely better than PCI
    Reply
  • nserra - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I think the other guy was talking about AGP not PCI.... but your points are still valid. Reply
  • xsilver - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    I think nvidia will be staggering these releases to force people to upgrade again and again
    SLI x16
    and then ddr2
    and then M2 socket -- all bought out over the space of 1 year?
    or is ddr2 being released when and only when M2 sockets are released?
    Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    All socket M2 boards will support DDR2 only, just as all S939 boards support DDR only. The memory-controller is on the CPU remember, so the socket change is to allow the switch to DDR2. Reply
  • lsman - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    no. there are (soon to out)
    AsRook 939Dual-SATA2 that has M2 jumper build in... I guess it will have adoptor for M2..
    Reply
  • nserra - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    Wrong!
    The jumper is to enable an add in card/board with the socket M2 and memory banks.

    So while is it possible to reuse the same socket you always need memory banks for DDR and DDR2. Of course the best is to provide 2 sockets like the combo-Z.
    Reply
  • nserra - Tuesday, August 09, 2005 - link

    ? Reply

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