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NVidia nForce Reviewed 211

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the dolby-is-oh-so-yum dept.
CtrlPhreak writes: "The highly awaited NVidia nForce is finally here. Anandtech has a review of an nForce 420 reference board. This is the one with integrated dolby 5.1 sound, a GF2 MX core at 6x agp, and dual-channel DDR RAM! Go check it out."
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NVidia nForce Reviewed

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  • by Mifflesticks (473216) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:37PM (#2342520)
    Um...yeah. nVidia hasn't always been a leader in the field. They have publically said that their first video card was a complete and utter failuer, because they chose to accelerate quadrilaterals instead of triangles, and triangles became the standard.

    Why bother with a GF3 though? Yes, it has some more features that alleviate bandwidth some, but it would have made a larger die, and therefore cost more, and only given marginally better performance (though admittedly, the quality would probably have been better). But, given that the integrated video is already bandwidth limited why should they stuff a bigger, more expensive core in there that wouldn't perform much better?
  • Just wait (Score:3, Informative)

    by interiot (50685) on Monday September 24, 2001 @02:55PM (#2342631) Homepage
    Time passes, processors get faster, bandwidth requirements go up.

    For the same reason, rambus will become more desirable as time passes.

  • by freelance ninja (231868) on Monday September 24, 2001 @05:12PM (#2343322)
    Microsoft paid nVidia $100 million to create a motherboard with an integrated GPU for the XBox. The GPU for the unreleased XBox will be better than the GeForce 3.

    Microsoft allowed nVidia to sell the technology that was developed (the nForce), as long as they didn't sell it with anything higher than a GeForce 2, because then there would be no reason to buy the XBox. In short, nVidia can't sell the nForce with a GeForce 3 because that would violate their agreement with Microsoft.
  • Test Procedure (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wicked_Will (524116) on Monday September 24, 2001 @06:03PM (#2343679)
    According to Anand's system specs it looks like there was just a single DDR266 memory module used in the nForce board. According to the nVidia information I've read the proper configuration for a 256 MB system would be to use 128 MB in Bank 1 and 128 MB in Bank 2. Otherwise the system is only using one bank, which would explain the marginal bandwidth increase (3%) over the VIA KT266A. It would be nice to see the board with one and two memory modules installed to see how the second bank inhances bandwidth and overall performance.
  • by Namarrgon (105036) on Monday September 24, 2001 @06:07PM (#2343724) Homepage
    The CPU and integrated video aren't the only things using that bandwidth.


    Everything on the MCP southbridge does too. The IDE drives can DMA up to 100 MB/s, the Ethernet chips in a bit, and the audio DSP can actually use a great deal of it when rendering audio effects (which it does to the system RAM - it doesn't have RAM of its own).


    nVidia have said that the MCP southbridge can use over 500 MB/s of the available 800 MB/s HyperTransport link between the two chips, when you turn everything on. That bandwidth will also be coming out of system RAM. A shame none of Anand's tests covered that, though I guess he was a little limited in what he could make it do without an S/PDIF output on the reference board (why did they leave that off?!)


    I would bet that the 420 will show a clear advantage over the 220 when doing disk I/O and heavy sound processing, even without using the integrated video. That's a good reason for enthusiasts to spend the extra on the 420, even with an AGP card being used.

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @12:54AM (#2345270) Homepage
    Some of you don't get it. This isn't a part for high-end systems. This is a part for low-cost systems. Low parts count, 4-layer boards, and very likely slotless PCs in a compact form factor. After all, if you have audio, networking, disk interface, USB, and more graphics power than a business PC will ever need, why have slots? Most PCs are never opened after they leave the factory.

    I suspect we'll see some nice-looking desktops for business, and low-end machines for the home, based on this. The big push for businesses will probably be lower cost of ownership.

  • by cyrilc (126593) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @03:41AM (#2345535)

    At least, they will never see me buying one of their cards until they release the source of their drivers for inclusion in XFree 4.x !!

    Is their anyone at Nvidia who can read and pass on the essay from RMS (esp. the appendix from the Magic Cauldron) :
    Why Closing Drivers Loses A Vendor Money [tuxedo.org]

  • Re:Test Procedure (Score:2, Informative)

    by ZZane (144066) on Tuesday September 25, 2001 @01:40PM (#2347962)
    It was posted later in their forums that the 420-D (or 440-D or whatever :) was indeed tested with 2 128MB DDR-SDRAM chips.

    -Zane

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