nVidia nForce3 Chipset

Anand Shimpi will be talking much more about chipsets at launch, but since this is our first real look at the nForce3 chipset, we should talk a bit about key features. One of the most exciting, and also controversial, features of the Opteron/Athlon64 is AMD’s decision to include the memory controller on the CPU. There are tremendous potential speed advantages to this solution, but the complexity of manufacturing also increases significantly. This can dramatically lower yields, which are becoming increasingly important in a competitive CPU environment.

nVidia’s nForce3 PRO is the only one of the Opteron/nForce3 chipsets in a single-chip package. Both VIA K8T800 and SiS755 will use the more familiar Northbridge/Southbridge arrangement. Key features for nForce3 PRO are:

  • Single-Chip Solution — Revolutionary single-chip solution designed for the AMD Opteron CPU enables higher-quality, full-featured motherboards and delivers maximum performance with the lowest latency. The single-chip design also means less power consumption and less heat dissipation.

  • Dual-Channel DDR400 Memory — Our reference board includes full support for Dual-Channel DDR ECC memory, and the Athlon64 version will also support non-ECC memory

  • Integrated SATA/IDE Raid — Provides support for RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 0+1, enabling the highest disk data transfer rates for highest system and application performance, and the highest performance fault tolerant solution for maximum data integrity. NVIDIA RAID supports both SATA and ATA-133 disk controller standards.

  • Enterprise-Class Networking — Delivers the required manageability features required by IT professions while maintaining the highest level of reliability, quality, and performance. Also delivers the highest throughput for network transfers and lower CPU utilization, resulting in lower total cost of ownership.

  • 64-Bit Architecture — NVIDIA nForce3 Pro provides advanced processing capabilities and system innovations for the new 64-bit AMD processor architecture.

We also see nVidia including some more familiar options, like the much-talked-about AMD Hypertransport first used in their nForce chipset, 6 USB 2.0 ports, and AC’97 with an SPDIF interface. Undoubtedly, the consumer versions of nForce3 will have even more features, but as a base chipset, nForce 3 is certainly competitive with Intel’s latest 875/865 chipsets.

More information on nForce3 PRO is available at www.nvidia.com/page/nforce3.html.

If you are interested in learning more about the features and architecture of Opteron and Athlon 64, you can access Anand’s excellent 3-part article at www.anandtech.com/cpu/showdoc.html?i=1815.

Index HyperTransport and Opteron/Athlon64 Overclocking
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  • Anonymous User - Saturday, October 25, 2003 - link

    I found it difficult to compare products because of the way the descriptions of processors and components were laid out.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Well for any Intel posters you can avert your eyes. I've recently been doing some shopping to piece together a new system for myself. I'd decided on AMD since their systems have always been good to me and cuz ..screw the big boys.
    Anyways I've been out of the hardware game for a while and the 64bit cpu is really interesting for me. I do a lot of 3d animation and video editing. SO my question is this 1)is there a trustworthy, compatible Mobo out there now that will work with amd64 that I could build now and upgrade up to later? 2)Is there another solution from the current 32bit amd processors that could give me all my needs (gaming, animation, editing, etc..)? or should I just wait for 64 to come out (which I really REALLY need to build a pc fast)??
    I'm open to any and all suggestions :)
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 13, 2003 - link

    Speaking of AMD vs Intel & the Sysmark 2002 cheating allegation, just wait until XP-2003 for AMD comes out and you install Sysmark 2002. Anyone with half a brain will understand what Intel & Bapco did to stack the deck when the system reboots after install. Very revealing.

    Remember this.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 13, 2003 - link

    Hmmm, talking about stocks. Actually in the last 3 months, AMD also doubled its price. So, if you own either Intel or AMD stock, you will have gain a lot of money. The stock increase occurs because investor expect that the chip sector is improving this year, i.e. there is an increase in the demand of cpus.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 13, 2003 - link

    I don't know if anyone is considering this but don't you think the prices for a processor are becoming a tad bit HIGH!? As it stands in order for me to get a piece of this new technology(Athlon 64 and its motherboards) I would have to cough up $1000+! $1000 for a cpu and motherboard!!! For companies that want its customers to flock to thier stuff when they release them that is TRULY not encouraging anyone to go out there and buy at all. As it stands I don't think a lot of people will be able to buy this thing right off the back no matter how bad they want it. The Opteron 940 is higher than my HOUSE NOTE right now for my 2-story home. The AthlonFX isn't any better. Right now Directron.com has the Athlon64 up for pre-order at the price $489. Ladies and gentleman that is a whole f***ing check for most people. I really do think that the Athlon64 and the Opteron are an advancement and a powerful one but could they please stop raising these prices?
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 12, 2003 - link

    Please stop repeating the same questions...

    The only thing I wanted to point out is that the drivers that are recompiled for the Athlon 64 are going to make a difference more than anything else discussed in this comment section.

    As for this Pentium 4 arguement, the P4 3.2 GHz 800MHz is $613. That is about $200 more expensive than the Opteron 242 and $150 more thank an Opteron 144. The MBs will become cheaper due to the lack of a Northbridge and ease of design. $130-140 is the price I expect the Nforce 3 boards to sell.

    Whatever you want is what CPU you should use. Just know that if you buy an Opteron or Athlon 64, that every driver update is going to get you more speed. Every update patch to games will get you more speed. And you have the ability to go to Windows XP 64 when it is finished and run even faster. Over time, you may have a 20% or more improvement in speed. If it doesn't, then you have a really fast CPU at 1.8 GHz running less than 39c while benchmarking.

    It will be a nice laptop.


  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 11, 2003 - link

    The testing methology is flawed here.

    You have an Opteron that is OVERCLOCKED to 222MHz HT bus/RAM, versus a stock standard 3GHz P4 (why no 3.2GHz?)

    It's like comparing a 2.8C @ 3.2GHz and comparing it to a 1.8GHz Opteron. I'm sure that would create an uproar of 'Intel BIAS!' type of comments. ;-)

    Don't get me wrong, Opteron/A64 is an impressive processor, but the review would've been much more credible had Anandtech reviewed a stock 2GHz Opteron vs a 3.2GHz P4, instead of an overclocked Opteron 1.8GHz @ 2GHz with faster HT bus and RAM, compared to a 3GHz P4, which isn't even the fastest available.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - link

    I'm a noob and I have a question. I'm not understanding how us gamers will be able to play our games (like bf1942) when these processors come out if there isn't a 64 bit OS out for us to run. Can anyone clear this up for me?
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 10, 2003 - link

    Considering this was testing its performance on a 32bit OS, I cannot wait to see how well it fairs in a true 64bit enviroment!

    I say....each to their own preference. Be glad you have the option to choose Intel or AMD and that their competion produces a less noticable strain on our pockets!

    **Ignorance is the weapon weilded by the man with closed eyes!**
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 8, 2003 - link

    #18, some Xeon's (not XeNon) have 1 meg L3, as well as 512 K L2 like any nortwhood. The L3 is inclusive however, which basically means that data stored in L2 is also duplicated in L3 to allow faster chaches. This results in a "net" cache size of 1 Mb, not 1.5.

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