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Nvidia to launch nForce 4 'next week'

But can ATI get its own launch in there first?

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Nvidia's next-generation AMD-oriented chipset family will indeed be called the nForce 4 and is likely to be launched early this month, possibly as soon as Monday.

Sources familiar with the chip-maker's plans revealed that the chipsets will support the PCI Express bus and incorporate Nvidia's SLI graphics card-doubling technology.

More detailed specs are not known, but rumours running back to last August suggest four nForce 4 models are in preparation, all of which add Serial ATA support and 7.1-channel high definition audio to the features mentioned above.

The vanilla nForce 4 is likely to sport dual Serial ATA channels and be pitched at Socket 939 AMD processors, with the HyperTransport bus clocked at up to 1GHz. An Ultra version will add improved network processing facilities, while the SLI release will naturally provide a pair of PCI Express add-in slots.

There's also talk of a budget version, pitched at Socket 754 processors and equipped with just a single Serial ATA bus. This may be the product once suggested as a server-oriented nForce 4, though the processor socket implies that Nvidia has other roles in mind.

Nvidia's arch-rival, ATI, is preparing AMD-supporting PCI Express chipsets of its own, believed to be called the Radeon Xpress family.

Reuven Soraya, ATI's director of platform product marketing, was recently quoted as saying his company will be the first to announce such a part. If it's to make good on that pledge, it will have to spill the beans over the next three days to beat Nvidia's Monday launch. Unlike nForce 4, Radeon Xpress will also support Intel processors.

nForce 4 availability isn't yet known, but a variety of sites claim the vanilla and Ultra parts will not appear until mid-October, followed by the SLI version at a later date. ®

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