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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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How are the PCI-E?
By Marlowe on 10/20/2006 5:48:12 AM , Rating: 3
The 590 SLI was a reincarnated nForce 4 chipset, right? It's 2x 16x pci-e was a hybrid design where the second slot had to communicate through the southbridge. Therefore, during heavy graphics processing the NB-SB interconnect could in theory be bottlenecked, interferring with other southbridge appliances such as network, storage, sound etc.
Correct me if I'm wrong here!

Does anyone know if the 680i SLI this time around have enough integrated pci-e lanes to do "native" 2x 16x pci-e? Thanks




RE: How are the PCI-E?
By DigitalFreak on 10/20/2006 8:08:55 AM , Rating: 2
It has been proven that running the second 16x slot off the southbridge on the Nforce4 x16 chipsets does not affect performance in any way. The only time it was an issue was when the BIOS was updated on the Asus A8NSLI-32 board, which reset the HTT settings for north-southbridge communication to a really low multiplier.


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