A new IGP and introducing the SPP
When NVIDIA introduced the nForce chipset they let their marketing folks go to work on the boring name “North Bridge” and came up with the Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP) title. The nForce2 IGP improves on the original Crush 11/12 IGP by adding a new graphics core and a few other features.
Just as the original nForce used a GeForce2 MX graphics core, the nForce2 IGP uses a GeForce4 MX graphics core. The graphics core will be clocked at 250MHz, which is identical to the core clock speed of the GeForce4 MX 420. The specifications of the GeForce4 MX core remain unchanged (including nView support), and you can read our quick one-page overview of the GPU here for more information.
The GeForce4 MX GPU takes up the vast majority (over 70%) of the nForce2 IGP die area.
Just as was the case with the original nForce, we’d expect system builders and OEMs to capitalize on NVIDIA’s misleading nomenclature by listing their nForce2 products as having GeForce4 graphics. Depending on what speed memory you use with the system, the IGP’s graphics performance will vary somewhere between the speed of a GeForce4 MX 420 and a MX 440.
Just like the original IGP, the nForce2 IGP supports a dual-channel DDR memory architecture that NVIDIA likes to call DualDDR (aka TwinBank). This 128-bit DDR memory bus gives the nForce2 the opportunity to exceed Intel’s 850E chipset in terms of raw memory bandwidth, but as we’ve seen before that only really matters when integrated graphics is enabled. With integrated graphics disabled, the second DDR channel is pretty much useless from a performance standpoint for the vast majority of scenarios.
The nForce2 IGP supports an external AGP 8X interface which will provide users an upgrade path should they decide that they want faster video. The support for AGP 8X comes with perfect timing as NVIDIA will be announcing AGP 8X versions of their GeForce4 line this fall; not to mention that NV30 will be an AGP 8X part as well. Although we don’t expect to see any performance gains from AGP 8X, NVIDIA insists that decoding multiple HDTV streams will quickly saturate AGP 8X; this claim could hint at a future direction for NVIDIA’s Personal Cinema.
Along with the nForce2 IGP, NVIDIA is also introducing the nForce2 System Platform Processor (SPP). The SPP is basically the nForce2 IGP minus the integrated graphics core, meaning that the SPP will be perfect for the majority of the enthusiast market that demands higher performance graphics. All of the features that we’re about to talk about are common to both the nForce2 IGP and SPP.