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The nVIDIA nForce Motherboard Chipset:
a different perspective

Last updated: 6/28/01

Bandwidth.  Other than the features already mentioned, what really sets this chipset apart is connectivity and bandwidth.  As mentioned above, it “talks” to DDR memory through two 64-bit memory controllers.  The IGP is connected to AMD DDR CPUs with a 133 MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) capable of 64-byte DDR266 burst transfers.  Meaning that data is transferred on both the leading and trailing edges of the FSB clock pulse for an effective 266 MHz rate.  Finally and not least, instead of hanging the Southbridge off the PCI bus, with a theoretical maximum burst speed of 133 MBytes/sec., like most chipsets (the other exception being the SiS 735 single-chip solution--heretofore the winner in benchmarks I have seen comparing DDR Athlon chipsets--with it’s Built-in 1.2GBytes/s Multi-threaded I/O Link between its internal Southbridge and Northbridge sections), the MPC is connected to the IGP with AMD's HyperTransport technology.  This implementation of HyperTransport is 8-bits wide and has a total peak throughput of 800 MBytes/second.  According to nVIDIA this is more than enough bandwidth for all of the Southbridge I/O functions to operate simultaneously without interruption. 

Furthermore, nVIDIA's StreamThru Networking/Broadband Architecture includes an advanced isochronous transport system, which makes use of the HyperTransport and features in the IGP and MCP to noticeably improve time-dependent applications such as media streaming, file downloading and multi-player games.  What's that?  Isochronous?

"A form of data transmission that guarantees to provide a certain minimum data rate, as required for time-dependent data such as video or audio.  Isochronous transmission transmits asynchronous data over a synchronous data link so that individual characters are only separated by a whole number of bit-length intervals. This is in contrast to asynchronous transmission, in which the characters may be separated by arbitrary intervals, and with synchronous transmission."
Source: Free On-Line Dictionary of Computing

What's it mean?  Better networking and music, and fewer, if any, buffer under runs when burning a CD.

So, even if you are game fanatic with a GeForce3 plug-in display adapter, you may still choose a motherboard with this chipset for it’s memory architecture, Northbridge/Southbridge bandwidth, and sound capabilities.  Others will probably find that the IGP has all of the graphics power they need or that it is sufficient to get them going until they are ready to upgrade to a higher-end graphics capability.

The entire chipset (graphics, sound, etc.) requires only one software driver from one vendor.

Each of the nFORCE chips will come in two flavors: IGPs with a single 64-bit memory controller or dual 64-bit controllers and MPCs with or without the Dolby Digital 5.1 encoder.  The nFORCE420 chipset will taste the best with a fully-equipped IGP and MCP.  The nFORCE220 will consist of the crippled chips, will cost about $10 less in quantity than the 420, and may become a hallmark of cheap, all-in-one-computers.


IGP Features

MCP Features

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