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Coming to a motherboard near you in November

NVIDIA is set to release its upcoming nForce 600 series of chipsets in the first half of November. DailyTech has come across more details of the upcoming chipsets including the nForce 680i SLI, 650i SLI and 650i Ultra—all for Intel’s land-grid-array 775 socket. At the top of the nForce 600 chain is the nForce 680i SLI MCP. This chipset will be replacing the limited availability nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition that was announced last June. The nForce 590 SLI Intel Edition had problems with overclocking the front-side bus past Intel’s rated 1066 MHz.

NVIDIA has remedied this situation and the nForce 680i SLI will officially support a 1333 MHz front-side bus. Whether or not this will support Intel’s upcoming Conroe 1333 MHz front-side bus refresh is unknown. Nevertheless, the supported 1333 MHz front-side bus will allow overclockers greater headroom with current overclocking friendly Core 2 Duo processors. NVIDIA has improved the dual-channel memory controller as well. The nForce 680i SLI’s memory controller now has memory dividers capable of support DDR2-1200 memory. Also supported is NVIDIA’s SLI-Ready memory with Enhanced Performance Profiles.

Graphics expansion will be a key point of nForce 680i SLI motherboards. In addition to the two full-speed PCI Express x16 slots, nForce 680i SLI motherboards will have a third PCI Express slot for NVIDIA’s unannounced three-GPU applications. This will most likely be a form of HavokFX SLI physics processing to counter ATI’s upcoming triple-play physics processing. The third slot will electrically have eight lanes routed to it.

On the networking side of things is the return of NVIDIA’s native Gigabit Ethernet, FirstPacket, DualNet and TCP/IP acceleration technologies. These features previously debuted with the nForce 590 SLI and remain the same on the nForce 680i SLI. High definition audio and six SATA 3 Gb/s ports with NVIDIA MediaShield storage technology are supported too. RAID levels 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 are also supported with the nForce 680i SLI.

Targeting budget conscious users are the nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra. These chipset are not officially rated to run at 1333 MHz front-side bus, though NVIDIA claims the chipsets can clock beyond official specifications with overclocking. Unlike the nForce 680i SLI, the 650i SLI only supports two PCI Express x16 slots in dual eight lane configurations. These two chipsets are identical with the nForce 650i SLI endowed with SLI support while the 650i Ultra only supports single-graphics card configurations.

The nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra have dual-channel DDR2 memory controllers, though there’s no official support for DDR2-1200 or SLI-Ready memory with Enhanced Performance Profiles. It is unknown if motherboard manufacturers will be able to expose the same memory dividers as the ones available on nForce 680i SLI motherboards.

Storage features have been stripped on the nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra as well. Instead of the six SATA 3 Gb/s ports found on the nForce 680i SLI, the 650i SLI and 650i Ultra are limited to four SATA 3 Gb/s ports. Nevertheless, NVIDIA’s MediaShield storage technology is still available with support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 configurations.

Networking features are also crippled with the nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra. Although native Gigabit Ethernet and FirstPacket are supported with the nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra, the DualNet and TCP/IP acceleration features are unavailable. As with the nForce 680i SLI, high definition audio technology is supported too.

All nForce 600 series motherboards will support NVIDIA’s nTune utility that allows system tweaking within Windows. The utility allows CPU and memory adjustments in Windows without the need to restart.

NVIDIA is expected to launch in early November with immediate motherboard availability. Expect pricing on nForce 680i SLI motherboards to be north of $200 while nForce 650i SLI and 650i Ultra will fill in the below-$150 price points.

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Hope it doesn't just support 333MHz FSB...
By Rookierookie on 10/20/2006 5:43:15 AM , Rating: 1
333MHz had better not be the upper limit of overclocking, because quite a lot of P965s have no problem whatsover pushing beyond 350...

By Furen on 10/20/2006 6:25:29 AM , Rating: 2
There're "rumors" pointing to a 500+ max for the FSB, though I don't know how reliable these are.

RE: Hope it doesn't just support 333MHz FSB...
By althaz on 10/20/2006 7:18:02 AM , Rating: 2
965P-based motherboards have no problems pushing past 450Mhz. If these boards can't hit at least a 375Mhz+ FSB they'll be a nVidia-fanboy only thing, IMO. Or if you need Quad-SLI for that 30" Dell behemoth :)

For n00bs, a 375Mhz FSB would mean a possible 41% overclock (with the current model Core 2s), which is comparatively poor, but only an issue if you're running the Allendales (E6300/E6400). That would put the E6600 up to 3.375 which isn't great, but is acceptable.

RE: Hope it doesn't just support 333MHz FSB...
By Jkm3141 on 10/20/2006 11:58:22 PM , Rating: 3
I laugh when I hear someone say a 3.375 GHz Conroe isn't great.

By rushfan2006 on 10/26/2006 9:24:11 AM , Rating: 2
I laugh when I hear someone say a 3.375 GHz Conroe isn't great.

Yeah...kind of like how I laugh when people think overclocking is hard or requires real skill (especially these days)....that "nOObs" commen above gave me a chuckle...

guess everyone wants to feel like they are uber in matter how mundane.


By Lazarus Dark on 10/20/2006 12:30:38 PM , Rating: 2
Man, not only does intel have the better processors now, theyve got the better chipset too. The 590 was a failure and this 600 series sounds barely up to the task of a stock quad core. Well that does it, sli isn't important to me, so im gunna get that asus p5b deluxe. Nvidia loses this round.

"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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