As we talked about in the launch review of the nForce3-250 chipset, the high-end versions of the nF3-250 feature nVidia on-chip LAN and nVidia Firewall built into the chip. Since the original chipset launch, it has been clear that readers were very confused about what the nVidia on-chip LAN actually was and which boards had the on-chip LAN.

We have been working with nVidia to try to provide some answers to your questions and clear up the confusion. This should make your buying decision a little easier when shopping for nForce3-250 motherboards.

What is nVidia On-Chip LAN?

The Gigabit LAN capabilities on certain nForce3-250 chipsets is not really a fully integrated LAN. Like solutions in a few other chipsets that remove the LAN from the confines of the PCI bus, nVidia provides a port for direct communication of a Gigabit LAN PHY (Physical Layer) with the nForce3-250 family chipset. There is still an external Gigabit LAN chip providing PHY Gigabit LAN capabilities, which communicates directly with the nF3-250 chipset.

As a result, you cannot determine if an nVidia nForce3-250 family board has on-chip Gigabit LAN merely by looking at the specifications for other brand LAN chipsets. The on-chip LAN will still have an external Gigabit LAN chip providing PHY Gigabit capabilities. This makes the on-chip LAN more like a port to communicate with the external Gigabit LAN PHY than it is a fully integrated Gigabit LAN chip. The end results are the same however - removing the Gigabit LAN from the constraints of the slower PCI bus.

Do ALL nForce3-250 chipsets have On-Chip Gigabit LAN?

The answer to this question has been spelled out in the chipset reviews for the various nForce3-250 family, but it is still a source of confusion. The ONLY nForce3-250 chipsets with on-chip Gigabit LAN are the nForce3-250Gb and the nForce3 Ultra. The other chipsets in the nForce3-250 family do not offer on-chip Gigabit LAN or nVidia on-chip Firewall.

This means that a motherboard based on the nForce3-250, without a Gb or Ultra extension, does not have the nVidia on-chip LAN or nVidia Firewall.

How Can You Tell if a Board Has On-Chip Gigabit LAN?


View All Comments

  • Boat - Saturday, September 25, 2004 - link

    I see from their site that the new Asus non-"E" model K8N board has the firewall but does not offer Gigabit Lan. Is this right or just a marketing snafu? Reply
  • MavAnan - Saturday, August 14, 2004 - link

    Does the comment below have any relevance to whether the MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum (aka MSI 7205)has the full implementation of the on-chip GB LAN?

    "MSI has included two Gigabit LAN connections, but neither of them courtesy of the on-board NVIDIA MAC. They are instead powered by the Marvell and Realtek chipsets"

    Thanks for any clarification.
  • loafier - Wednesday, August 11, 2004 - link

    Hello. Anyone know the jumbo frame size supported by nVidia gigabit ethernet? I hear that jumbo frames is supported, but I am unable to find the exact size and options for jumbo frames. Reply
  • johnsonx - Saturday, August 7, 2004 - link

    I notice the Socket-754 GA-K8NSNXP is now off the list, but the 939 version is still there. It shouldn't be on the list either, or at the very least have a special mention that the NV MAC port is 10/100 only, and that the Gigabit port does NOT use the NV MAC.


    3. Marvell 8001 Gigabit Ethernet controller
    4. ICS 1883 LAN PHY chip

    The board is further described as having 1 Gigabit and 1 10/100 Ethernet port, and we also know from other documentation that the ICS 1883 is a 10/100 PHY.
  • operator - Saturday, August 7, 2004 - link


    I've had no problems with the onboard lan at all, with BT or whatnot.
  • gtech41 - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    Ha, yeah scratch that Biostar too. The other one is fine though. Reply
  • aznknight696 - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    isnt the biostar k8nbp motherboard the one used in their sff system, ideq 200p, which is the nforce3 150 chipset? Reply
  • gtech41 - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    Wesley-all the other boards are OK. Post 15 summed it up nicely. I assume that the plain 250 has a built-in 10/100 MAC which explains the ICS PHY on the K8NSNXP. It's use on the Ultra defies explanation though. I can only assume that they wanted to get an Ultra board out before anyone so the just recycled the 250 board design and dropped in the Ultra chip.

    Incidentally, back when the Intel ICH4 was big news for it's integrated features, Gigabyte did the exact same thing by bypassing them all in favor of PCI components.
  • johnsonx - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    In other words, I think GigaByte should be off the "uses NVidia GbE" list entirely.

    Again, I don't think what GigaByte did here was cool at all; If you buy a board that says "NForce3-Ultra", and you see a Gigabit Ethernet port, you ought to be able to assume it's the well-advertised NVidia Gigabit Ethernet with the dedicated port to the northbridge, not some bandwidth starved PCI-based solution.
  • johnsonx - Friday, August 6, 2004 - link

    The GA-K8NSNXP for 754 uses the standard Nforce3-250 that doesn't have the Gigabit port; so they stick the ICS-1883 PHY on the NForce3, and add the Marvell Gigabit controller to the PCI bus.

    For socket 939, the GA-K8NSNXP-939, they switch to the NForce3-Ultra, but don't change anything else on the board. So oddly, the on-chip Gigabit-capable ethernet port is still linked to the ICS-1883 10/100 PHY, and the Marvel Gigabit LAN still links to the 33Mhz 32-bit PCI bus (much too slow for Gigabit Ethermet, SATA controller, firewire and PCI slots!)

    Piss-poor execution I say. Would it have been that hard to switch out the ICS 1883 PHY for a Gigabit capable one? They could leave the Marvel one alone, and offer Dual-Gigabit at essentially the same price.

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