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Thoughts on the Nvidia nForce?

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Thoughts on the Nvidia nForce?

Old 06-04-01, 09:18 AM
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Nvidia recently announce a new motherboard chipset for AMD processors and looks very promising. I am planning on upgrading this in the next few months. Originally I was going to go with a 1GHz P3, but now I might change my mind and go AMD with an Nvidia motherboard.

Articles:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/3/19398.html

http://www.tomshardware.com/mainboar...041/index.html

http://www.tomshardware.com/mainboar...604/index.html
Old 06-04-01, 10:18 AM
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I wonder how scared Via and Creative Labs are right now? Once upon a time, there was this graphics company called 3dfx...

Seriously, nForce looks like a killer chipset. The only punch nVidia pulled was to integrate a GeForce 2 instead of GeForce 3 (no need to stab themselves in the foot). I am confident that benchmarks will show the nForce to be the fastest available chipset. The nForce puts a lot of pressure on lots of previously separate computer components: low-end video cards, sound cards, network cards, modems.

On the compatibility side, the unified drivers look promising compared to what I have read about Via motherboards.
Old 06-04-01, 12:48 PM
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Originally posted by Nocturnal
The only punch nVidia pulled was to integrate a GeForce 2 instead of GeForce 3 (no need to stab themselves in the foot).
Never fear...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/3/19424.html
Old 06-04-01, 01:57 PM
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Looks to be a cool chipset. Has there been any word on the MSRP for a motherboard based on this? I must have missed it.
Old 06-04-01, 03:03 PM
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Originally posted by mtucker
Looks to be a cool chipset. Has there been any word on the MSRP for a motherboard based on this? I must have missed it.

From the Register article:

Nvidia says nForce mobos will start shipping in the Autumn. Pricing? Nothing was being said about that but Tony Tamasi, director of product management, said the nForce was going to cost a lot less than a chipset and add-in graphics card.
Old 06-04-01, 10:47 PM
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I ran across this: http://www.zdnet.com/eweek/stories/general/0,11011,2768579,00.html

[Edited by X on 06-04-01 at 08:50 PM]
Old 06-04-01, 11:58 PM
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since i hate integrated solutions with a passion, it will not get me to buy. I guess for those who do not ever want to upgrade their computer it is an option.
Old 06-05-01, 07:03 AM
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Integrated solutions are nice when you're building a secondary machine or building a computer for mom and pop. Sure, it won't replace your current desktop solution, but I love the integrated motherboards for creating small, special purpose machines.
Old 06-05-01, 08:48 AM
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Normally I dispise integrated solutions (I'll refer to them as i.c.), but this is different (or so they say). Most i.c. just slap several different parts together and call it a whole, but they aren't really all that integrated (which could cause a performance hit). They are also usually made up of low end, low qualitry parts (audio and video that is), which makes them that much less likeable.

With the nForce the i.c. is built from the ground up, so the integration is much better. It also has the advantage of using higher end audio and video. The video (based on GeForce2 MX) is more or less the budget version of the best. I don't think the audio can be considdered to be bad because it hass full implementation of DX8 (probably the first) and has AC3 encoding (also a first).

For those that hate integrated solutions, I think you should at least give this one a chance because it is different. It also doesn't lock you into using the audio and video provided since you can always disable the provided A/V and purchase seperate boards for sound and video.

My original reason for going with P3 is because the P4 doesn't seem worth it, and I didn't want AMD because I'd be forced to go with a VIA chipset (which I don't want). If I chose to go AMD, the nVidia chipset will be the only thing I'll go with. True, it could have some of the same issues that a VIA chipset would have (or any other non-intel chipset), but with this I think I'm willing to risk it.
Old 06-05-01, 07:31 PM
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When mainboards based on nForce are released, case modders can really start to build compact boxes that aren't lacking in the performance category. Imagine decent video, decent audio, and networking all integrated onto the motherboard. Use a low profile power supply and heatsink/fan unit with a microATX board, and you could possibly have a very thin LAN box.

Besides, if nForce is successful, it would mean serious competition to Intel's integrated solutions found in the 810/815 chipsets.
Old 06-05-01, 07:46 PM
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Originally posted by iveal
Besides, if nForce is successful, it would mean serious competition to Intel's integrated solutions found in the 810/815 chipsets.
I don't think this will be a really big threat to Intel since there is a large intel following that won't go with anything else. However, I do see it threatening VIA in a big way.

The part that I find most intriguing is the APU with real-time AC-3 encoding. In fact this may be enough to push me over the enge and go AMD when I upgrade. This would bring a larger benefit to having my PC connected to my A/V reciever (as it currently is).
Old 06-05-01, 09:31 PM
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It's fun to see nVidia bring 3D video card style marketing to the staid world of PC chipsets. I've always loved how they give slick names to everything in their chips. "Buy the nForce, now with Retsin!"

There is, of course, some really interesting new technology in the nForce. If it performs as well as advertised and they're able to avoid the stability and compatibility problems that traditionally plague new chipset designers, they're going to be dominant in the AMD market overnight. Obviously those are two pretty big if's, but nVidia has been on a roll lately. They've got a well deserved reputation for technical competence and if any other company (aside from Intel) were to try to make this kind of introduction with those claims, I'm pretty sure the reception would be much cooler. Indeed, the likes of Via, ALi, and SIS can only be praying that nVidia screws up somehow.

As for Creative Labs, even if the nForce eats up a big chunk of the AMD sound market, that's still only a big chunk out of a small slice of the overall PC market. And I'm guessing there won't be Intel versions of nForce anytime soon. Intel has shown time and again that they won't give up the high end of the chipset market and nVidia is not a company that is happy to settle for the low end.

The irony of all this is that Microsoft paid for nVidia to develop the technology in this chipset to be used in xBox. So when the xBox dies its miserable death in the console market, it may yet live on in the heart of PCs.
Old 06-05-01, 11:38 PM
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Originally posted by Jason Northrup
Normally I dispise integrated solutions (I'll refer to them as i.c.), but this is different (or so they say). Most i.c. just slap several different parts together and call it a whole, but they aren't really all that integrated (which could cause a performance hit). They are also usually made up of low end, low qualitry parts (audio and video that is), which makes them that much less likeable.

With the nForce the i.c. is built from the ground up, so the integration is much better. It also has the advantage of using higher end audio and video. The video (based on GeForce2 MX) is more or less the budget version of the best. I don't think the audio can be considdered to be bad because it hass full implementation of DX8 (probably the first) and has AC3 encoding (also a first).

For those that hate integrated solutions, I think you should at least give this one a chance because it is different. It also doesn't lock you into using the audio and video provided since you can always disable the provided A/V and purchase seperate boards for sound and video.

My original reason for going with P3 is because the P4 doesn't seem worth it, and I didn't want AMD because I'd be forced to go with a VIA chipset (which I don't want). If I chose to go AMD, the nVidia chipset will be the only thing I'll go with. True, it could have some of the same issues that a VIA chipset would have (or any other non-intel chipset), but with this I think I'm willing to risk it.
i see the point and advantages of integration. the disadvantages outweigh them. you pay more for the motherboard. if you disable the video and audio can you take them out and sell them to reduce your investment in a newer and better video or audio card- no then they are not a good solution. I have always upgraded by steps and sold or gave the older parts to family members or friends.

I see no advantages except to those that never upgrade. if you upgrade this board is not a deal at all.

I am building a new machine right now. it is costing me around $600 for a whole new AMD 1.2 Ghz computer- only because I can take out the parts i want from my old machine and I will replace them with slightly slower parts and sell off my old machine or network it. With this solution i would be restricted and it would cost me a more.

sorry to disagree with a mod
Old 06-06-01, 04:07 PM
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Regarding the X-box: is Microsoft still planning to use Intel P3 processors? I wonder how much modification nForce would need before it could be used with an Intel processor in a PC box. As I understand it, the audio (MCP) components of nForce are similar to those in the X-box. However, the northbridge does seem very different to anything that currently supports the P3.
Old 06-06-01, 07:12 PM
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Originally posted by iveal
Regarding the X-box: is Microsoft still planning to use Intel P3 processors? I wonder how much modification nForce would need before it could be used with an Intel processor in a PC box. As I understand it, the audio (MCP) components of nForce are similar to those in the X-box. However, the northbridge does seem very different to anything that currently supports the P3.
In one of those articles it says that the APU is almost exactly what's on the X-Box. The X-Box does use a P3 (8??MHz). Nvidia doesn't want to invest in doing a P3 chipset since Intel is phasing it out. They aren't planning on a P4 chipset since they doing have the license on the P4 bus, but they also don't show much interest in a P4 chipset either.
Old 06-06-01, 07:59 PM
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gcribbs, I think most enthusiasts would agree with your sentiments regarding integrated devices. The point Jason was making, and I would agree with him, is that this new chipset offers some very intriguing features that make it unique and thus attractive despite its integrated design.

The nForce chipset offers some unique innovations that have at least a theoretical potential to boost performance quite significantly. Even if they have no interest in the integrated video, if nForce lives up to the promises, enthusiasts will flock to it because it'll be the fastest chipset available. They'll buy an nForce and use a Geforce3 card.

iveal, the xbox uses a P3-733. When asked about producing versions of the nForce for use with the P3 or P4, nVidia officials simply stated that they didn't have a license to produce chipsets for Intel CPUs. I guess MS does have a license and that's why nVidia can design a chipset for them to use with the P3 in the xbox. Apparently, their agreement with MS allows them to use much of the technology developed for the xbox in their other products because they've pretty much admitted that the design for the integrated sound in the nForce is pretty much identical to what's being used in the xbox.

I'm fairly certain that if nVidia were so inclined, they could develop a P3 version of the chipset very quickly since they've already done the work for the xbox. However, my guess is that they won't. Most of the high-end enthusiast market where their branding is the strongest is already focused on the P4 or Athlon CPUs. Also, until Intel reverses their position on Rambus, I don't see them giving nVidia a license to sell dual channel DDR SDRAM P4 chipsets.
Old 06-06-01, 10:03 PM
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belboz,

my feeling is that nvidia should design a MB that has the same advantages in speed without the integrated video and audio. I think it would be possible to do so. Of course if i am wrong(that is the speed advantages only happen due to integration) then by buying the MB and then bypassing the integrated devices you will be losing much of the speed advantages so why bother.

so either the speed advantages are possible without the integrated devices in which case- Do not force me to buy the integrated version and pay for parts i do not want.

or the speed advantages are not possible without the integration of the devices in which case- I am not interested in locking myself into a video card and audio card like this.

the XBox is only on a P3 733eb chip according to microsoft at E3.

Old 06-07-01, 01:55 AM
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Originally posted by gcribbs

so either the speed advantages are possible without the integrated devices in which case- Do not force me to buy the integrated version and pay for parts i do not want.

or the speed advantages are not possible without the integration of the devices in which case- I am not interested in locking myself into a video card and audio card like this.
You're talking to a guy who was unhappy when they started integrating IDE controllers into the chipsets. I also chose to stick to overclocking BX chipsets partly because I didn't like the integrated i815, so trust me when I say that I understand your feelings on this.

The problem is that nVidia doesn't appear to have any plans to produce a version without the integrated video. If this chipset lives up to its promises, it'll likely be the fastest Athlon chipset available which, to me at least, would override any misgivings I might have about its integrated video controller.

Plus, it's probable that they wouldn't have been able to implement the guaranteed bandwidth feature for the sound h/w unless it was integrated into the southbridge/mcp. I haven't looked at any diagrams, but it sounds like it's connected to the CPU and main memory through the Hypertransport bus. If that's the case, then not only would I expect it to eliminate most instances of audio stuttering or dropouts, but it also frees up bandwidth on the PCI bus. The fact that the specs of the sound h/w kick ass and will have an AC3 encoder that I've been wanting, but can't get in any add-in sound card, is just gravy.

My only concern about the chipset, aside from the integrated video, is its stability and compatibility. No performance advantage is worthwhile if it comes at the expense of random lock-ups or configuration headaches. Unfortunately, even if nVidia puts together a solid design, just the very fact that it's new means that most hardware and software won't have been tested and validated for it. Nevertheless, I'd be pretty tempted to try one out.

On a somewhat incidental note, I seem to recall some statements by Micron Tech engineers a couple years ago when they were designing their Samurai chipset. They were claiming that north bridges, because of their requisite high pin count, are pad limited in size and thus much of the die was empty since there wasn't much logic on the chip. They were speculating about the possibility of adding as much as 8MB of L3 cache into their northbridge, which I was assuming was mostly free because it would be using that wasted die space.

If that's true, then it really wouldn't cost nVidia any less money (as far as fab costs anyway) to produce a chipset without integrated video as it does to produce one with it. Of course, I'm aware that Intel does sell an i815C (?) sans integrated video that costs less than the regular i815. But that's coming from a company that once supposedly sold 486SX CPUs that were 486DX dies with disabled FPUs. That may have been apocryphal, but the conflicting natures of semiconductor manufacturing and marketing often do result in such odd behavior. So it wouldn't surprise me at all if the i815C did cost just as much as the i815 to produce.

BTW, I've heard that the two versions of the nForce northbridge/IGP, one with the 128 bit memory inteface and the other with the standard 64 bit memory interface are actually identical...
Old 06-18-01, 09:55 AM
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Here's an update from the Register:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/2/19772.html

Here's a review of a beta board. there are some issues, but it looks to be promising.
http://www.extremetech.com/print_art...53D4167,00.asp

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