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Nvidia details nForce 4

Longhorn TCP offloading, Serial ATA 3Gbps - but no post-AC97 sound

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Nvidia made public details of its nForce 4 PCI Express chipset, as expected - doubly so since AMD welcomed the company's Athlon 64-oriented product earlier today.

The leaks pretty much had it right. The nForce 4 family comprises three models: nForce 4, nForce 4 Ultra and nForce 4 SLI, the latter providing support for Nvidia' 'two GPUs, one image' multi-processing technology.

The nForce 4 provides one x16 PCI-E interconnect for graphics cards and three x1 slots for other boards. It can also handle up to four Serial ATA drives and four parallel ATA drives, with RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 running across all of them. On the communications side of the Media and Communications Processor (MCP), the chip provides a hardware firewall and Gigabit Ethernet. There's also support for TCP offloading, a system that's compatible with Microsoft's 'Longhorn' OS 'TCP Chimney' acrchitecture. The media component includes AC97 support, and not the anticipated hi-definition system.

The Ultra part adds support for Serial ATA 2.0, with its 3Gbps operation, again over four devices. There's support for ten USB 2.0 ports, too. The MCP features a beefed up security sub-system.

The nForce 4 SLI is an UItra part with support for a further ten PCI-E lanes. Both SLI and Ultra will also ship with nTune's Nvidia's performance control software - overclocking, to all intents and purposes. Nvidia dubbed the code an "industry first", but this is the kind of thing companies like ABIT have been doing for some time. The utility offers a "powerful... tuning engine that customises various system parameters to automatically adjust for the ultimate performance", Nvidia claimed, adding: it "also offers customisable computing environments, ranging from extreme performance for 3D-intensive applications to quietened operation for DVD playback and other traditional PC applications".

All three chipsets are geared toward 939-pin AMD processors.

Nvidia said it expects mobos based on the nForce 4 family to ship within the next 30 days from all the usual suspects. ®

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