Improved Feature: MediaShield

While the networking side has undergone an extensive makeover, the storage side of the nForce500 has been fine tuned. The nForce 590/570 series now offers three separate SATA controllers each with integrated dual PHYs that are capable of operating at 1.5Gb/s or 3.0Gb/s speeds. This results in six Serial ATA devices being available for the user instead of four as in the nForce4, Intel ICH7, or ATI SB600. These devices can be configured in RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5 arrays. There is no support for RAID 10.



Considering the support for six drives, it is now possible to run a massive RAID 5 drive consisting of a pair of three-drive RAID 5 arrays together, or running multiple combinations of RAID technology together. NVIDIA also supports the shared spare (or dedicated spare) technique in MediaShield. The spare disk feature, available with MediaShield RAID 5, offers protection with a dedicated spare drive that can take over for a failed disk until the repair is completed. However, the performance results during our RAID testing found no measurable differences between the nForce4 and nForce 500 storage systems. In fact, the less than stellar write performance of the nForce4 in RAID 5 continues in the "new" chipset.

NVIDIA will be introducing a new twist to improve their SATA controller performance by offering profiles for specific hard drive models. Since each hard drive has unique performance characteristics, NVIDIA will be matching the capabilities of their controller logic to each drive's particular strengths. So far, Western Digital's 150GB Raptor has the only profile loaded, but there are plans to profile additional performance oriented drives that are popular in the market. The nForce4 family will also benefit from these profiles through driver updates, but users are not able to configure or modify individual drive profiles. In our testing with dual WD1500 Raptors we noticed benchmark results that were on average about 1% to 2% better in our IPEAK tests while the synthetic tests realized a 3% gain in some areas.

While NVIDIA has implemented six native SATA ports, they reduced the available PATA ports to one. This matches the Intel ICH7 and ATI SB600, but the reduced PATA ports will not be seen as an improvement to many users. Considering the Optical drive manufacturers have been very slow to implement SATA in their drives, this decrease in port count could affect those users who have multiple optical drives for audio/video content creation and manipulation. However, with the major core logic suppliers basically on the path of phasing out PATA devices this move by all the chipset manufacturers might spur the optical drive manufacturers to a quicker SATA transition.

Improved Feature: High-Definition Audio

NVIDIA has finally decided that life after SoundStorm no longer means the continual punishment of users by only offering AC'97 based audio support in their chipsets. NVIDIA now joins the rest of the industry as the nForce 500 lineup will offer full support for the various "Azalia" based High Definition Audio codecs. While the choice of which HDA codec along with the associated circuitry can still greatly impact audio quality and performance, any of these options are better than the AC'97 solutions previously offered.

DualNet, Teaming, and TCP/IP Acceleration Control Panel / nTune 5.0
POST A COMMENT

64 Comments

View All Comments

  • ayqazi - Wednesday, July 05, 2006 - link

    I'm a little tired of hearing about so-called "chipset" hardware RAID. The writer of this article constantly made it seem that it was the chipset that was responsible for performing RAID operations on the disks, whereas nothing could be farther from the truth.

    Yes, the chipset may offload some of the work, but (in the case of RAID 5) the major calculations, like the XOR calculations, are done by the host processor.

    According to [L]http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Hardware/sata.html#faker...[/L] and [L]http://spamaps.org/raidtests.php[/L], Linux-based software raid is much faster than so-called fakeraid, since it has been optimised and developed more than the software drivers of the fakeraid chipsets.

    Anyway, just pointing out something that gets on my nerves a bit.
    Reply
  • raildogg - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    I think for most of us who have a nForce 4 ultras and SLIs, it doesn't make sense to upgrade to AM2 motherboards and processors. We'll need new memory too. No performance increase. Just upgrade to a X2 and that should be a good upgrade for those of us who don't have it yet. Reply
  • Powered by AMD - Friday, May 26, 2006 - link

    When in the article says:
    "In fact, the less than stellar write performance of the nForce4 in RAID 5 continues in the "new" chipset"
    It does mean that the write performance is good or not?

    thanks!
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    Means just as bad as before, in a nicer manner. :) Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, May 27, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Means just as bad as before, in a nicer manner. :)


    Thank you for the perfect reply. ;-) NVIDIA is working on this for the next refresh, their reasoning at this time is they did not want to introduce potential data corruption issues by improving the performance with the current chipset and driver base. It continues to reinforce our belief that although the nF590 SLI is the most feature laden chipset out at this time, the core continues to be nForce4 Plus in our eyes. This is not bad at all, just what can you do with a less than stellar CPU release (still an extremely strong CPU lineup) from a marketing viewpoint. I think NVIDIA and ATI are going to be hamstrung on sales with the AM2 release but hopefully they can make it up when Conroe (Core 2 Duo) launches shortly. :) The bios revisions we have received this week have improved performance but nothing that would make a nf4SLI/4800+ owner want to upgrade yet.
    Reply
  • SonicIce - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    AM2 can just die. Reply
  • afrost - Thursday, May 25, 2006 - link

    i'm glad you took the time to type all that out..... Reply
  • KHysiek - Thursday, May 25, 2006 - link

    Well, but it does say precisely right about the whole AM2 transition.
    This is the most pointless hardware upgrade I've seen forfew last years.
    The only significant advantage of AM2 is a bit more featured mainboard. And you pay more for less speed. I think AMD is on the way down and no K8L can save them, cause it will be quad core only. What typical user needs quad core for price AMD keeps (like their pricing for current X2 CPU's versus Intel's).
    Core 2 is huge leap forward and combined with Intel manufacturing power will make big push back for AMD in coming months.
    Reply
  • Pirks - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    Gary, what's about that QoS network driver/protocol hanging around in my WinXP for years? I heard it does some quality of service stuff/packet prioritizing/etc soo... is FirstPacket just an interface for this Microsoft QoS thing? Or is nVidia didn't know about it and reinvented the wheel? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, May 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Gary, what's about that QoS network driver/protocol hanging around in my WinXP for years? I heard it does some quality of service stuff/packet prioritizing/etc soo... is FirstPacket just an interface for this Microsoft QoS thing? Or is nVidia didn't know about it and reinvented the wheel?


    I raised this question at the Editor's conference as it appeared to me they decided to take advantage of some hooks/protocols in XP. I have a meeting with the platform manager tomorrow and hopefully some discussions with the Network guru next week after his return from vacation. I am trying to get an answer before our roundup is published. I noticed some interesting inter-actions during our network testing, will say this, they (NVIDIA) really took the networking side seriously on this release although most of the features are designed for the server/workstation market, but we get them for free on the desktop. We expect further hardware/driver improvements in the next refresh. I am trying to compare the outbound FirstPacket numbers to a D-Link Gamer Lounge at this time along with how both prioritize packets on the outbound lanes. There are so many different tests and options in just the new networking features to run that is a bit overwhelming at this point and of course the new draft-N equipment showed up this week also. ;-)
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now