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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.

By stoy4o on 10/20/2006 8:47:42 AM , Rating: 2
I assume this board will not support DDR3 - am I correct?

Does anyone know when such boards will be available to the end user?

By Russell on 10/20/2006 12:27:43 PM , Rating: 2
You are correct, it does not support DDR3. DDR3 hasn't even been announced and is not available anywhere yet, so I think you're jumping the gun by about 6-9 months.

I think we can expect to see DDR3 on Intel systems by Q3 2007 at incredibly high price points, and in upper-mainstream systems mid 2008. The first DDR3 we see will be as slow as DDR2, so there'll be no compelling reason to upgrade to it (like when DDR2-400 came out...there was no reason to buy it).

After typing all that I looked it up and I was fairly close in most regards,

So there you go. Don't wait on DDR3.

By gramboh on 10/20/2006 12:56:42 PM , Rating: 2
DDR3 is coming in Intel Bearlake chipsets (X38 and P35 I think are the replacements for 975X and P965). These have been announced (search Dailytech for Bearlake) but no ETA for release. Speculation it could be in May 2007. From what I can tell, there is no advantage to DDR3 other than lower power consumption, until speeds ramp up.

By Russell on 10/24/2006 9:42:41 PM , Rating: 2
Which, considering how high costs will be for the first year, is why it will be restricted to high-end systems for the time being.

I can't see Bearlake released in May, however.

Sounds like Toyota
By Lord Evermore on 10/21/2006 4:24:26 AM , Rating: 3
This sounds like Toyota. You can't get just one optional feature, you have to get a whole package including a bunch of stuff you don't want. If you want full speed SLI, DualNet, OR the extra 8X PCIe, high speed FSB, et cetera, you have to pay for them all. I know that all the recent chipsets are like that to some degree, but these models seem to leave a big gap in the mid-range.

The way the article is phrased, it sounds like the 680i SLI boards will be required to include the 8X PCIe slot. True? While an extra 8X slot is nice, if you aren't going to add a card for physics, it's a waste of money.

RE: Sounds like Toyota
By glennpratt on 10/24/2006 2:22:44 PM , Rating: 2
Not at all, if it's physically an x16 slot you could put any PCIe card you like in it, another video card, network, video capture, whatever.

RE: Sounds like Toyota
By qwertzuiop on 11/4/2006 10:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
But except of the video card you can put each of these cards also in a x1 Slot. Some cards require a x4 slot, but they are mainly high end RAID controllers. And normal SLI is only for 2 video cards and NVIDIA has no attempts to change this, so if you dont have a physics card, a 3rd physical x16 slot is useless.

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.

Any onboard graphics chipsets?
By A554SS1N on 10/20/2006 7:50:39 AM , Rating: 2
Interested if there are any updates to the onboard 6100/6150 chipsets on NF4 with this new 600 series range?

By DigitalFreak on 10/20/2006 8:09:20 AM , Rating: 2

Ohh great. SO much for inepxensive motherboards.
By Dfere on 10/20/2006 9:17:05 AM , Rating: 2
For enthusiasts.. ok this is good news. For the other 95% of us, a mainstream board for SLI? Sorry but SLI is not bang for your buckable.

You think ULI being purchased didn't affect the market?

By ogreslayer on 10/20/2006 10:33:19 AM , Rating: 2
These are Intel boards the antithesis of cheap. A decent Core2 capable board is gonna set you back at least $100 and a full feature rich overclocking platform, or something with proven stock stability is going to be in excess of $200.

ULI's purchase barely even affected its market space... AMD boards. ULI based boards ran from the $40 - $70 range. AM2 boards run in that same range from SIS and VIA, Hell you can get a 6100 mATX board in that price category.

Power Supply Requirements
By M9ACE on 10/20/2006 10:27:20 AM , Rating: 2
I am curious as to what size power supplies this series of video card is going to require. If I remember correctly from articles posted a few months ago, the next generation from ATI and nvidia are going to be very “thirsty”. In turn the following generation after that (not counting the product refresh cycle releases) should be improved in that they are more efficient.

RE: Power Supply Requirements
By M9ACE on 10/20/2006 10:56:50 AM , Rating: 2
OOPS! This is embarrassing. Sorry wrong article.

Goodie Gum Drops...
By Jesse Taylor on 10/20/2006 4:58:32 AM , Rating: 1
The idea of my new machine continues to grow in my mind.

RE: Goodie Gum Drops...
By George Powell on 10/20/2006 5:10:32 AM , Rating: 2
I stand in a similar position.
The 680 SLI could well find its way into my PC, most likely early in the new year.

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