nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400Gb: Fast LAN, Firewall, SATA, RAID for Athlon XPby Wesley Fink on May 13, 2004 2:00 AM EST
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A Closer Look at nForce2 Ultra 400Gb
The nForce2 is so well known that it makes little sense repeating features, and the new chipset uses the same familiar nForce2 Ultra 400 SPP that we have seen for many months.
This proven dual-channel SPP chip is combined with one of the new MCP (Media and Communications Processor) chips to add the additional capabilities. There are actually 2 versions of the newest second generation nForce2 chipsets, depending on which MCP is used.
nForce2 Ultra 400Gb is the high end version and uses the nForce2 Gigabit MCP with the nforce2 Ultra 400. The nForce2 Gigabit MCP features on-chip Gigabit Ethernet, on-chip NVIDIA Firewall for system security, Serial ATA (SATA), and the NVIDIA "Any-Drive" RAID technology that allows IDE and SATA drives to be combined in RAID arrays.
The nForce2 Ultra 400R is the mainstream or value product, and combines nForce2 Ultra 400 with the new NVIDIA nForce2 RAID MCP. It features the same SATA and "Any-Drive" RAID technology, but it does not have the on-chip Gigabit LAN or nVidia Firewall. You will see the R version used in boards designed for a price point. It is particularly interesting that both VIA and nVidia will provide RAID as an option even on entry-level motherboards.
Sound Storm Audio is not a part of either new MCP. nVidia has chosen to provide an audio codec that can be paired with a number of audio chips to provide 5.1 or 7.1 audio capabilities.
The new 4.24 version of the nVidia Platform drivers replaces the Sound Storm Control Panel with a new nVidia Mixer. nVidia says that there are many Audio Driver improvements in the new unified platform driver:
- Improved AC '97 / Soft Audio driver - adds EQ, speaker cloning, and speaker wizard support
- Speaker Wizard with all NVSwap features, to ensure correct speaker setup on analog or digital speaker systems
- Cinesurround - a virtual 5.1 mixdown to headphones or 2 speakers
- New Environments - simple, preset driven sound environments
- Enhanced ASIO support and added support for AC '97 / Soft Audio systems
- User adjustable "rear channel creation" support - adds off, clone, reverb and delay
- Support for Realtek ALC655 codecs, Realtek ALC658 codecs, and 7.1 support for Realtek ALC850 codecs
- Support for WMV-HD audio streams and WaveFormatExtensible calls
- Improved playback of mono content
- Fixed audio performance issues in numerous games and applications that were problems with past nVidia Platform Audio drivers