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


View All Comments

  • Curt Oien - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    PCI EXPRESS ? Reply
  • prisoner881 - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    There's a huge gaffe on the On-Chip Gigabit page. It states that Fast Ethernet runs at "100MB/sec" and Gigabit runs at "1000MB/sec." "MB" is shorthand for mega<i>bytes</i>, not mega<i>bits</i>. Megabits should be abbreviated "Mb."

    Normally I wouldn't be this anally-retentive, but the poor usage leads to another problem later on down the page. The article states that Gigabit Ethernet running at "1000MB/sec" is faster than the PCI bus which runs at "133MB/sec." The PCI rate figure is correct, but the Gigabit figure makes it look like Gigabit is about 8 times faster than the PCI bus itself. <i>It's not!</i> The PCI bus runs at (133Mbytes/sec X 8 bits/byte = ) 1064Mbit/sec, which faster than Gigabit. The article is very misleading in this respect.

    In truth, the PCI bus can almost never reach its peak 133MB/sec rate (usually it's around 100MB/sec) but then again Gigabit can't reach it's peak either.

    Regardless, the article is completely incorrect when it indicates a Gigabit card would overwhelm a PCI bus. This is not true.
  • BikeDude - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    Argh... I keep forgetting that it's 1000Mbps _full duplex_... nVidia are indeed correct, the PCI bus is only half that speed. :-/

  • BikeDude - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    First off: GB is GigaByte. Wesley wrote "GB" more than once while actually referring to Gigabit (bit has lowercase b).

    Next, 1000Mbps is roughly 125MB/s (theoretical peak I expect). 33MHz 32-bit PCI is roughly 133MB/s. I dislike PCI Gb implementations as the next guy, but I'd still like to know how nVidia managed to come up with the half speed figure? Perhaps nVidia's PCI-bus implementation is sub-par? (which is a real issue! Via has struggled with really bad PCI performance for years :-( )

    Finally there's 6-channel audio; What happened with Soundstorm and Dolby encoding implemented in hardware? (I currently use only the SPDIF connectors on my nForce2 and get surround sound both in games and while playing DVDs -- is there no way to get this functionality with Athlon64?)

    Hopefully the next article will shed some light on some of these issues. Cheers! :)

  • KristopherKubicki - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    gigE is awesome and worth it. i dunno about the firewall but eh. 45MB/s network transfers are fun.

  • Verdant - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    schweet... when is my 16x nforce 250 mobo comming the the mail? Reply
  • klah - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    hmmm.. seems that last page was slipped in from the November SiS article. weird.

  • Phiro - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    yeah, the SiS 755FX plug at the end was sort of a red-herring - didn't fit at all with the article, which was soley about Nvidia, it didn't need SiS's recent efforts tacked on the end at the last second.

    A couple things:

    1) to all you nay-sayers about the worth of gigabit ethernet - I thumb my nose at you! Let's not play chicken or the egg games here, let's just usher in new *desired* technology as smoothly as possible - having gigabit ethernet will push me to replace my netgear 10/100 switched hub, not the other way around.

    2) Anandtech, what's with the nvidia ass kissing? When you say things like 'Nvidia assured us.." and "We did test Nvidia's claim... [and we believe it]" - come on, a little healthy doubt is a good thing. Just because they supplied you with a reference nforce3 250 mobo doesn't mean you have to see how far you can stick your tongue up their butt. Honestly, the article felt like it leaned toward Nvidia abit. Believe it or not, you can report on a product without it sounding like some money changes hands or something.
  • mechBgon - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    *drool* Reply
  • bldkc - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - link

    What's with the SiS 755 crap at the end of the article? Someone didn't proof read, huh? That is also obvious in the spelling errors. Excellent article. Better than recent ones. I do wish that you had been able to include the performance portion, cuz now I'm itching to see them.
    One thing tho, how many people have several gigabit systems at home? I know I will not upgrade any of mine until they are replaced, so it will be awhile. Therefore I am not too excited at this point, especially if the high speed wireless standards work out to high enough throughput to allow real time multi-media transfers. Love the on chip firewall, but Zonealarm is still the only useful application specific solution I know of. Not that I'm an expert, I am far from it, but the Blackice debacle was seen coming long ago.

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