nVidia nForce3 Chipset

The Chaintech ZNF3-150 uses the nVidia nForce3 chipset. We covered basic features of the nForce3 in our Athlon64 Preview. Since this will be your first look at nForce3 compared to other solutions, we will talk about basic features of the nForce3.

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. For a chipset maker, the move of the memory controller to the CPU itself means the chipset design is much simplified. In fact, about half of the requirements of the supporting chipset are eliminated, which allows a much simpler design — even the possibility of a single chip solution instead of the customary North and South bridges.

nVidia’s nForce3 PRO is the only one of the Opteron/nForce3 chipsets in a single-chip package. Both VIA K8T800 and SiS755, 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 essential 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.

The Athlon64 and Athlon64FX CPU use Hypertransport as their method for internal communications. While these and the Opteron are the first AMD processors to use Hypertransport, this architecture is something nVidia has used in their nForce series since their original nForce chipset.

More information on nForce3 PRO is available at http://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.

Index VIA K8T800 Chipset
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  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    #5
    I old too, but still keep buing from AMD, Intel is way too expensive for as in Latin America, and give no clear advantage for a programmer/gamer like me.
    If you been having problems with AMD, surely your are building AMD chips with PCCHIPs mainboards, and Pentiums with Intel boards, you are a smart guy!
    So, if you gonna build a modern PC, you'll experience problems becouse WinXP didn't include drivers for new chipsets, so, for it all going like a charm, you need an Intel Pentium III and a Intel 2001's mainboard, anything newer, you gonna have to look for drivers, whatever the platform you choose.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    #10 -
    You are absolutely correct in theory. However, when we moved from the Ti4600 to the ATI 9800 PRO, our encoding scores on the P4 went up about 35-45%. Don't ask me why. They did not change on the Athlon, which had led in this area before. That is one of several reasons we will be changing to another encoding benchmark.

    If you doubt what I say, check Evan's 20-board 865/875 roundup done with the Ti 4600, then check the retest of some of the top boards we include in our more recent P4 reviews. Evan did the original and the update tests, and I have confirmed his results.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Since when does the video card have ANYTHING to do with DivX encoding? That is a purely CPU and RAM issue, even playback is not influenced too much by the video card anymore (speed not quality...that is an entirely different issue). Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Hey, could you please touch on what DAC chip is powering these setups? A picture would be nice too.

    Envy 24bit audio would be an utter waste if some crap Realtek codec was used. It would be good if this was highlighted so that motherboard manufacturers catering to the higher end of the market will take notice.

    Chaintech apparantly took note of the fact that you guys bashed every single board that had the ATX connector near the board i/o ports. Despite it being a non issue. That thick bundle can be routed so that the interference with airflow is minimised.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Please, please, please stop using Flash for graphs. Reply
  • dvinnen - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #5: Youe funny. Constant screw ups? It's Intell who has had to have 3 or so recalls over the last 4-5 years. And theres that bug with the Itantic which the only way to fix is to lower the clock to 800 mhz. AMD is the one who keeps screwing up? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #3 and #4 - Thank you. Now corrected.

    Just before posting we decided to combine the 3 reviews into one larger launch review. Unfortunately I had used the same name for two different pictures and the first one was picked up. There is a socket closeup of the FIC that never made it to the server.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    yeah, about the only good thing coming out of this is the price drops soon. Otherwise still the same stupid +-5FPS differences = waste of time/effert to get excited about.

    i used to love amd, but just got tired of their constant screw ups, so anymore i personally don't care what stupid thing they come out with, i won't waste my time with it.

    Perhaps that's cuz i'm older now and have a good job/salary and don't need/care about overclocking and or paying a few bucks more for intel quality/stability. yeah, must be just getting to be an old fogey, cuz this whole amd/intel wanna-be-war doesn't give me a hardon like it used to ;)
    Reply
  • Thoreau - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    Correction, Page 11 in the index list. First pic. Reply
  • Thoreau - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    The 2nd page of the FIC section shows a pic from the Chaintech board. Think you got that a little mixed up there. Reply

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