The New AMD and Intel Chipsets

The upgrade to nForce4 SLI X16 is more of an upgrade than an overhaul. This solution expands NVIDIA's core logic solution to two chips rather than one. The current nForce4 MCP will act as the southbridge and will be connected to the new AMD nForce4 System Platform Processor (SPP) via its HyperTransport link (usually connected to the processor). This gives 8GB/s bandwidth between the AMD MCP and SPP. Added latency over the HT link shouldn't be very high and we don't suspect that it will have an impact on anything. The SPP and MCP each provide x16 PCI Express links along with a few other choice features.

As the Intel core logic solution already incorporates an SPP, the upgrade for the Intel nForce4 SLI X16 is even simpler. Since the MCP included on the current Intel chipsets simply has its PCI Express lanes disabled; enabling them is all that NVIDIA needs to do. The total number of available PCI Express lanes on Intel nForce4 SLI X16 based systems comes to 40 after the SPP and MCP are added together. These lanes can be divided up into 9 different slots. AMD based systems will offer 38 lanes over up to 7 slots. This means that we could see a bunch of x1 or x2 slots, but since PCI Express cards can plug into larger slots and this solution has lanes to spare, we'd like to see some larger connectors on these consumer motherboards. There aren't any widely available parts to make full use of the bandwidth now, but motherboards that cost upwards of $200 should be somewhat future proof and flexible.

NVIDIA states that motherboards shipping with the nForce4 SLI X16 chipset will generally have all the enthusiast bells and whistles like dual gigabit network connections and 6 to 8 SATA ports. Supporting all these options alongside up to 40 PCI Express lanes (38 for AMD systems) and 5 PCI slots, these new motherboards will cater to almost workstation level I/O needs. For example configurations of Intel and AMD solutions, take a look at these block diagrams provided by NVIDIA.

These configurations can vary depending on the manufacturer of the motherboard.

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  • quanta - Thursday, August 11, 2005 - link

    Why does AMD version of nForce4 north bridge only has 18 PCI Express lanes instead of 20, especially when the AMD north bridge doesn't have to include DDR2 memory controller? It sounds like yet another crippleware move to 'justify' the purchase of some upcoming nForce4 Pro chips.
  • Tanclearas - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    As others have stated, you gain nothing from x16 vs x8 PCIe. I would honestly be surprised if anything is even gained for GPGPU applications, but it is possible.

    Any performance differences would be easy enough to examine, even right now. An SLI motherboard can be configured for x8/x8 even if you're only using a single card. I know that all of the benchmarks I ran came out virtually identical. I'll be trying again when my 7800GTX shows up, but I'm willing to bet I'll get the same result. So you don't like switching the "paddle"? Just set it for dual cards and be done with it.

    The new chipset is however a great move by Nvidia. Marketing works. Either Dell fell for the marketing, or Dell understands that their customers will fall for the marketing (probably the more likely).

    I know that I have no plans to upgrade my A8N-SLI Deluxe just to get a board with the new chipset. I'm perfectly content sitting on what I have until I need to upgrade to M2. Who knows what chipset I'll look at then. Hopefully I'll have a lot of choices when I'm ready (ATI, Nvidia, ULi, maybe even Via [lol]).
  • ElJefe - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    16x is freakin retarded marketing crap.

    so is pci-e. thats also marketing crap.

    Sli is ALSO marketing crap. It was designed for you to spend 2x the money. "oh no its not, i can buy a cheap upgrade to my current card etc etc" No you cant. You want a better graphics card. *buzzer sound!* No you cannot get that card, because it isnt the same one as before. "Oh, well i have 6800 ultra's" *buzzer sound again* No point in spending for 2nd card even here, the 7800 will outperform it anways, and wouldnt you want 1 card for less heat and wattage consumption vs 2 that are now outdated?

    SLI does give you a few things, one it makes you spend 20-60 dollars more for a mobo that has one, PLUS it gives you a 30-40 watt more power draw even if you use only 1 card! AND! I'll throw in a bonus: A super hot northbridge that if passively cooled, can exceed 70 degrees celsius. BUY ONE NOW!

    What crap. I just called Asrock US sales office and they said they are about to release the m1695 board. At least one company doesnt force someone to get crap that is useless.

    agp 4x is hardly broken by all but the 7800, we have 4x slots on pII boards.....

    8x agp hasnt been tapped, BUt you SHOULD buy 2 pci x16 lane cards NOW!!!!!
  • Calin - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I want to disagree - PCI-E is not marketing crap, it is a way to put again all the external devices on a single bus again.
    While PCI will die under many kind of use the current PCI cards are able to generate (think PCI video cards, think PCI RAID cards, think PCI gigabit cards), the PCI-E are easily able to accept it. While the "top" of the line PCI-E (16x) offer no usable bandwidth advantages over the 8x cards, they still offer more power to the card than the 8x slots, and again more power than AGP slots and maybe even than AGP-Pro slots. Just think at all the last-generation ultra-super-extra video cards and their TWO 4-pin connectors to get extra juice. How about a AGP card that needs not two 4-pin connectors for extra power, but three? PCI'E 16x might have solved that problem.
    Also, have you seen PCI cards (network cards mainly) that are long and thin to reach to the end of the PCI slot? a PCI-E 1x card can have a third of the PCB, allowing a better airflow, costing less, and so on. PCI-E is surely better than PCI
  • nserra - Wednesday, August 10, 2005 - link

    I think the other guy was talking about AGP not PCI.... but your points are still valid.
  • xsilver - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    I think nvidia will be staggering these releases to force people to upgrade again and again
    SLI x16
    and then ddr2
    and then M2 socket -- all bought out over the space of 1 year?
    or is ddr2 being released when and only when M2 sockets are released?
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    All socket M2 boards will support DDR2 only, just as all S939 boards support DDR only. The memory-controller is on the CPU remember, so the socket change is to allow the switch to DDR2.
  • lsman - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    no. there are (soon to out)
    AsRook 939Dual-SATA2 that has M2 jumper build in... I guess it will have adoptor for M2..
  • nserra - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link

    The jumper is to enable an add in card/board with the socket M2 and memory banks.

    So while is it possible to reuse the same socket you always need memory banks for DDR and DDR2. Of course the best is to provide 2 sockets like the combo-Z.
  • nserra - Tuesday, August 9, 2005 - link


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