NVIDIA has plans for the ultimate overclocker's system - your next motherboard may be an overclocking monster

Several weeks ago, HardOCP and HKEPC (English) published some preliminary details on the NVIDIA Tritium platform.  NVIDIA's vision is to combine several different components, from memory to video cards to motherboards, all under the Tritium certification.  Motherboards, for example, will undergo a strict set of criteria that, if satisfied, will receive special certification from NVIDIA said to "maximize overall system performance."

For example, motherboards will be required to enable certain voltages for maximum memory tweaking.  The latest specification for motherboard manufacturers insists there be 25mV granularity on everything from CPU core voltage to memory VDDIO.  An abbreviated list of the motherboard voltages is as follows, though we have been told NVIDIA has slightly tightened the specifications within the last few weeks:
  • CPU (AMD AM2 Socket)
    • V_Core: 0.775V to 2.2V
  • Memory
    • VDDIO: 1.8V to 2.5V
    • VTT: 0.9V to 1.25V
  • C51XE
    • V_Core: 1.2V to 1.45V
    • V_PEX: 1.5V to 1.7V
    • V_HT: 1.2V to 1.5V
  • MCP55XE
    • V_Core: 1.5V to 1.7V
    • V_PEX: 1.5V to 1.7V
    • V_HT: 1.2V to 1.5V
Furthermore, all motherboards expecting to be Tritium certified must meet or exceed certain frequency requirements.  These include but are not limited to:
  • CPU memory interface: DDR2 interface running at 800MHz
  • CPU C51XE 16 x 16 HyperTransport interface: 1.5GHz
  • C51XE x16 PCI Express link: 150MHz
  • C51XE/MCP55XE 16 x 16 HyperTransport interface: 1.5GHz
  • MCP55XE x16 PCI Express link: 150MHz reference clock
Features such as NVIDIA's LinkBoost (NVIDIA trademarked) will be optimized to run on these Tritium platforms.  Of course, many of these features are useless without BIOS support.  The motherboard BIOS options we've heard thus far include everythign from 425MHz FSB adjustments (in 1MHz increments) to 1.0 to 4.5 CAS Latency control (in 0.5 increments).  Overvoltage and individual frequency controls are also required -- and virtually every frequency control we saw was in 1MHz increments.  All SBIOS hooks must be inserted so that the board will work with NVIDIA's nTune software. 

Memory providers are also included in the Tritium umbrella.  Certain memory manufacturers are already working on SPD timings and extensions designed for Tritium certified motherboards.  Memory will also be required to work at certain voltages and timings, though obviously not as aggressive as the motherboards can fully support via the BIOS.

Video card manufacturers will complete the trifecta with BIOS.  Cards will be required to comply with 1MHz over/underclock increments though again not as aggressive as the motherboard BIOS can support.  Again, all of these functions must also be supported by NVIDIA's nTune software.

General specifications must be met by all components to meet the Tritium certification as well.  The motherboard x16 PCIe slots must be spaced apart enough to support Quad SLI, and all components must operate at or below temperatures thresholds set by NVIDIA documentation.  The system must also contain IEEE 1394b support, two PCI 2.3 interfaces, dual Gigabit Ethernet over the NVIDIA PHY and 8 channel HDA jacks in the back. Even the power supply must be rated to comply with the 150W video card specification set forth by NVIDIA for SLI.

NVIDIA certainly has an aspiring project on its hands, raising the bar quite a bit from what overclockers have traditionally considered sacred on only a few motherboards.  The important thing to recognize is that when all of the right components are in place, the system will overclock itself, though one can still tweak things manually.  We expect to see announcements from NVIDIA and some of the Tritium partners within the next few weeks about specific compliance, but only a few partners will have components at the AM2 launch.  However, don't get too comfortable with the name Tritium.  NVIDIA has not registered it with the USPTO.

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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