nForce3-250Gb: On-Chip Gigabit LAN

nVidia is very proud of their on-chip implementation of Gigabit LAN. The concept is very similar to Intel's CSA bus, which was introduced with the Intel 875 chipset, in that it moves communications off the slower PCI to a faster bus. However, nVidia carries the concept even further by implementing their Gigabit LAN on the single-chip nForce3-250GB. This removes the 1Gb LAN from all buses and allows performance at the internal speed of the chip.

Fast Ethernet (10/100) was really not a concern on the PCI bus. In the traditional arrangement, the Ethernet controller resided on the PCI bus.



The PCI bus was not really an issue for the fast Ethernet 100Mb/sec connection because even at maximum speed, Fast 100 did not exceed PCI bandwidth. However, Gigabit LAN, at 1000Mb/sec can exceed the bandwidth of the PCI bus easily. With nForce3-250GB, nVidia has moved the Ethernet to the chip itself.



This frees Gigabit Ethernet from the bottleneck of the PCI bus, but the nVidia Gigabit LAN is still recognized as if it were a PCI device. nVidia also recognizes that their 3rd generation MCP Ethernet is not the only solution off the confines of the PCI bus, but they claim that their solution is the fastest available. nVidia showed standard benchmarks where input/output on their Gigabit LAN was more than twice as fast as PCI Gigabit Ethernet.

This all sounds good for the business user where it is easy to justify Gigabit LAN, but the practical reality is that even broadband connections are still too slow for home users to saturate a PCI Gigabit LAN. When we brought this up, nVidia pointed out several realities where their on-chip Gigabit LAN would make a difference today.

1. LAN Party Gamers - The prices of Gigabit switches has dropped to the point they are becoming practical as switches at LAN parties. The nVidia on-chip Gigabit LAN will be the fastest machine at any LAN Party using Gigabit switches.
2. Multimedia on Home Networks - Anyone moving multimedia files on their home network will see a real increase in speed with on-chip Gigabit LAN.


3. File sharing - Sharing files between computers can be accelerated with the tenfold increase in throughput with Gigabit Ethernet. Digital videos and photographs, music, computer games, and text files with lots of graphics are some of the types of large files shared between home computers.
4. Longer Computer Lifespan - with Gigabit LAN moving into the mainstream, a fast on-chip solution like the nF3-250GB Gigabit Ethernet will extend the useful life of the computer.

Business users have an easier time realizing the immediate benefits of nVidia's on-chip Gigabit LAN. Anything a business does on their LAN is that much faster with Gigabit LAN moved on-chip and off the PCI bus.

nVidia has assembled an impressive communications team with deep experience in the communications industry. That depth of experience shows in the design of the communications capabilities of nForce3-250Gb. It is the most impressive chipset Gigabit LAN that we have seen, and this will be the reason to buy an nForce3-250Gb board for some.

nForce3-250Gb: WORKING AGP/PCI Lock nForce3-250Gb: On-Chip Firewall
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  • Reflex - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    #39: In my honest opinion, the lack of Soundstorm is an improvement. The APU they were using was a lot of marketing, but relatively poor quality. Even the 'cheap' off brands had better chips available, and nowadays with Via's Envy line the Soundstorm is very, very out of date. I think its absence represents the reality that nVidia did not see enough of a benefit in trying to become a full fledged audio processing company, and since most motherboards without nForce chipsets have other solutions it wasn't a huge value-add(many NF2 boards did not even utilize the nVidia solution).

    Any serious enthusiast would be using a Turtle Beach, M-Audio(or other Via Envy solution), or Audigy anyways, at least if sound quality mattered to them at all. Soundstorm was decent in its time, but they did not try to compete when the next generation arrived(Audigy/Envy) and they weren't top of the line when they were introduced(TB Santa Cruz had that crown).

    Its a risk/reward scenerio, and the rewards did not outweigh the risks of the heavy investment it would take to keep up with the big boys.
    Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    Why did I say it is mostly for servers, and also it would be good for laptops. erg! You get the point. Reply
  • GoatHerderEd - Wednesday, March 24, 2004 - link

    I don’t understand why they don’t have fire wire. It can’t be that hard to include it, and MB manufacturers would be very happy with that since they wouldn’t need to mess with another chip and leads. It would also help in the whole SFF and laptop areas.

    For all the people wining about the sound, I still think they are aiming this at servers and workstations. Plus gamers would want the pci sound anyways, I know people who add pci sound even with the awesome nforce 2 sound, go figure.

    Finally, enough bitching about the typos, once is enough. I don’t see you with a reference board in hand!
    Reply
  • jlfowler78 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I'm disappointed there's no PCI-Express support. What's the deal with that? When will nVidia make a chipset like the n3-250 plus PCI-Express? Geez, even SiS has a good chipset w/ PCI-E. Reply
  • xt8088 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Have at another NForce 3 250 review at http://www.hexus.net/content/reviews/review.php?dX...

    This review mentioned the lack of APU, and it had the benchmark tests.
    Reply
  • Shinei - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    I'm fairly certain that this is just a generic board to test the chipset out with, it's not going to be the final product put out by GigaByte or Abit... After all, most nForce2 boards have 3 DIMM slots, while the GigaByte GA-7Nxxx series all had 4...

    Now that nVidia's shown that they can still make motherboard chipsets, I think it's time they showed us they can still make video cards that rock your pants off.
    Reply
  • Regs - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Wow @ 2.4 Ghz. But Only 2 DIMMs for RAM? Please tell me other boards will have more than 2! Im running with 2x 256 + 1 x 512 Dimm. It would kill my bank account to waste another 100 bucks on ram. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    #31 - You ever tried to make a gaming engine multi-threaded? How about making it really multi-threaded so that you might get a 50-100% boost in performance by adding a second processor? I won't say it can't be done, but it is a *major* change in design philosophy and coding. My experience with multi-threaded applications is that they are much more complex to get working properly. The only game so far that I've heard of trying to use multi-threading was Quake 3, and it didn't work very well. I think the estimate of 3 or more years before games start taking advantage of multi-threading is pretty optimistic, but we'll see. Reply
  • Doormat - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Wow, this is the first product in a few months that has been interesting (though, the coming NV40/R420 war will be fun to watch).

    The gigE interests me because I'm looking at a home media network that would be seperate from my normal network, and looking at putting out simulatenous DVD/HDTV feeds over the network was kinda iffy on 100Mbit networks (HD can be up to 19Mbit/s, DVDs are probably anywhere from 2Mbit/s to 4 or 5Mbit/s).

    My only gripe is that the socket 939 chips arent ready yet. I'm waiting for those to show up before I make a move.
    Reply
  • wassup4u2 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Then again, the NF3-150 reference board had a "working" AGP/PCI lock... Reply

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