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
The new version 4.24 Platform Driver works across the entire line of nForce products, including nForce1, nForce2, nForce2 Ultra 400, nForce2 Ultra 400R, nForce2 Ultra 400Gb, nForce3 150, nForce3 250Gb, and even a new unannounced nForce3 product that will be coming out soon.

Index Basic Features: nVidia nForce2 Ultra 400Gb Reference Board


View All Comments

  • vkristof - Monday, May 24, 2004 - link

    Does anybody know when any Ultra 400GB MBs will be available for purchase? Reply
  • plonk420 - Thursday, May 20, 2004 - link

    i mainly want to see Xvid tests in addition to Divx, since Divx is HEAVILY weighted in Intel's favor. plus it's pretty decently superior to Divx ^_^ and there's no excuse, now that Xvid's gone one-point-oh Reply
  • Gandalf90125 - Monday, May 17, 2004 - link

    "Performance on shipping boards will be the same as any other nForce 2 Ultra 400 board - this is about added features."

    Consequently, it could be argued that the benchmarks are pointless.
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, May 15, 2004 - link

    #9 - We actually do more overclocking tests at AnandTech today than we have ever done in the past. Check our recent reviews of motherboards where we reach 347 FSB or memory where we test at DDR570.

    We always test OC on full retail reviews, but the chipset in the review is well known here. This is also a Reference Board - not designed to test overclocking since there are no ratios. We did test OC on the VIA K8T800 PRO Reference Board because the PCI/AGP lock was a new feature on that chipset. However the core chipset capabilities are well know here and there seemed little point to doing OC tests, when the capabilities of the nForce2 Ultra 400 are already well known. 400Gb is a features upgrade using a new MCP (or southbridge), not a new chipset.
  • noxipoo - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Does anandtech do overclocking tests anymore? where is anand these days Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    #6 - With chipset introductions and Reference Boards we expected you would be more interested in where they "fit" overall, which is why the Athlon 64 comparisons.

    You can't buy a Reference Board, and the nForce2 Ultra 400 SPP is the same chip used by nVidia for months. So, there is really nothing new in performance here.

    Performance on shipping boards will be the same as any other nForce 2 Ultra 400 board - this is about added features.
  • GokieKS - Friday, May 14, 2004 - link

    Even though the GbE is a great feature (thanks to 2 875P systems, I've already got a GbE network set up, and I can't imagine going back to 100Mbps), I'm more interested in the older nF2 boards with MCP-T, which hopefully will drop in price because of this, to be paired with something like an AXP-M 2400+. :)

  • Jeff7181 - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Not to be an ass, but what good is it to compare this to Athlon 64 boards? That tells me absolutely nothing about whether I should buy it to replace my A7N8X Deluxe or not. I see a few tests were done with an nForce2 motherboard... yay. There shouldn't be ANY socket 754, 940, or 939 boards in this review since they use entirely different processors.
    Hey... why didn't ya throw in some Intel 865 chipset mobo's in there for comparision too?

    ... I'm confused... all this tells me is that an Athlon-64 solution is most likely going to be better than sticking with socket A... and I didn't need to read this article to figure that out, I thought it was a well known fact.
  • Gromis - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    #3, but how often do people upgrade CPUs anyway? I'm a tech in a PC shop, and from what I see, not a whole lot. By the time you start thinking about upgrades, you find yourself in a market for a complete new PC anyway. Those who upgrade every 6-12 months are an extremely tiny minority. I myself used a PII/350 for nearly 5 years, swapped it for a Duron 1200 a year ago, planning next upgrade in another 8-9 months - most likely A64 by then. Reply
  • hifisoftware - Thursday, May 13, 2004 - link

    Nice article, but when will we see motherboards with this chipset? It is going to take 3+ month for them to come out then it is a not very usefull chipset. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now