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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  • prisoner881 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    #18, I know it's full duplex, but even then you will have a hard time getting full utlization under normal working conditions. Benchmarks are designed to run things at unrealistic rates. The point is, although I don't encourage it, you can certainly put Gigabit on the PCI bus and get very usable performance out of it. In most cases, the limiting factor is going to be CPU utilization anyway. Reply
  • JADS - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    External HDDs could make good use of a Firewire connection, especially now it is whizzing along at 800MBit/s.

    The multi CPU implementation sounds interesting, of course AMD will completely fail to capitalise on it by not making the FX dual processor capable. How many enthusiasts (AMD wise) could resist the chance of dual FX-53s, especially with the possibility of overclocking them? You have the distinction between the 2xx series and the FX due the removal of ECC/Registered memory in the FX 939 series, so they essentially serve two different markets.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Why would you need firewire with USB2? OK, ipod and camcorders.

    I have one question. Since you use a browser to configure the firewall, does this mean it is OS independant, i.e., I can use it in Linux without needing drivers to run it?
    Soundstorm not present on here, oh well, almost all uATX boards had the MCP and not MCP-T so it didn't matter anyhow, and it doesn't work in Linux anyhow. VIA sound is troublesome in Linux too. I rather use my own sound card. Just hope there is a driver for the cool LAN adapter.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    #10 -
    LAN is Duplex. Gigabit on PCI with overhead can do about 820mb/sec in industry standard tests. nVidia's on-chip LAN could output about 1840 mb/sec in the benchmarks we have seen. This is more than twice as fast IF you have a source that can actually output 1GB in both directions.

    #11 -
    PCI Express will be seen on Intel boards very soon. AMD boards will not move as rapidly to the Intel PCI Express standard.

    #12 -
    Firewire is not on-chip. Undoubtedly many mfgs will add firewire with an additional chip on-board nF3-250.
    Reply
  • fla56 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    ''No one can possibly complain about the feature-set of nForce3-250''

    to add my vote to what's already been said, no firewire for my iPod and no SoundStorm/DolbyDigital for that lovely Yamaha amp I just bought mean i think someone needs to calm down a little about all that excitement (and learn a little about the difference between megabits and bytes by the sound of things)

    i wonder if they'll release Soundstorm as a PCI eXpress card....
    Reply
  • Reflex - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    #8: Actually, to date nVidia has had a *very* troublesome PCI implementation, anyone with a PCI RAID controller and a 4 disk RAID 0 array can tell you that. It is so bad, in fact, that prototype NF3-150 boards for Opteron used AMD PCI chips just to avoid using the nForce3 integrated PCI bus. I am not certain if these boards ever reached production status however.

    As for this chipset, it looks nice, but honestly I'll wait until there is a PCI Express solution out there, I was just forced due to power problems destroying my equipment to upgrade my motherboard prematurely, and I don't intend to buy another until the next wave of features is available...
    Reply
  • DAPUNISHER - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Keep your eyes open for my AN50R listing for sale at rock bottom pricing in the FS/FT forum when the 250 is on shelves :D Reply
  • fla56 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Reply
  • prisoner881 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Looks like another error on the "Conclusion" page. Last sentence, second paragraph says "We expect that some enterprising companies, which specializes in catering to the computer enthusiast, will slip in some Socket 954 boards based on the Ultra chipset with a Gigahertz HyperTransport."

    Socket 954? Methinks that ought to be Socket 754.
    Reply
  • arswihart - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    What about firewire connectors, do you guys think they'll be added to production boards? Reply

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