NVIDIA nForce2 Chipset Preview
Introducing the nForce2 SPP and the new nForce2 IGP
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The goal of the nForce2 chipset, is for NVIDIA to claim leadership in both the discrete and integrated motherboard market for the AMD platform. To do this, NVIDIA has prepared two new “north bridge” chipsets. The first of these is the new SPP, or System Platform Processor.
The nForce2 SPP is aimed at the system performance market. The SPP is a “pure” chipset, meaning it was designed from the ground up without any kind of integrated graphics and designed to be the fastest chipset on the market in terms of system performance. There are several new features on this chipset that will allow NVIDIA’s goal to be realized. First, the SPP now has two separate memory controllers to cut the memory latency in half. Both controllers can be utilized simultaneously giving the nForce2 chipset an edge over all the other current chipsets. The new 128-bit memory controllers also have a few more upgrades including an increase in memory bandwidth from 4.2 GB/s to 6.4 GB/s. Also, the amount of supported memory in the nForce2 has doubled from 1.5 GB to 3.0 GB.
The SPP is going to include a 2nd generation Dynamic Adaptive Speculative Preprocessor (DASP) that is responsible for attempting to predetermine what data the system is going to need first and to already have it accessible before the data is asked for. This, of course, can greatly increase the overall system performance if it is integrated well.
One of the more exciting features that are available on the new nForce2 SPP is the DDR266, DDR333 and DDR400 memory support. With the use of asynchronous memory settings (presumably in the bios), the NVIDIA nForce2 chipset is going to be the first to officially support the DDR400 memory specs until the release of the KT400 chipset sometime next month. How much the increased memory bandwidth does for performance however, has yet to be seen, but you can be assured we will know in the coming weeks when nForce2 hardware begins to show up.
The final new feature that the SPP is offering is the first official support for the AGP 8x specification for any AMD platform. Again, this is something that the KT400 chipset has been said to support, but NVIDIA is going to be the first out. Currently, the only AGP 8x compatible video card is the Xabre from SiS, though more are due soon.
nForce2 IGP – Integrated Graphics Processor
With the first nForce chipset, we saw the introduction of the IGP term. Basically, it was the “north bridge” of the chipset with the integrated graphics in it. In the last revision, the graphics were powered by a GeForce2 MX graphics system. For the nForce2, NVIDIA has upgraded the integrated graphics to the level of GeForce4 MX performance.
The integrated graphics on this chipset will have all the features of the GF4 MX 400 series graphics cards, with a little bit extra. This will be the first time Accuview Antialiasing will be available on an integrated chipset as well as the Video Processing Engine (VPE) from NVIDIA.
With the below graphs, again supplied by NVIDIA, you can see how this second generation of nForce with the GF4 MX graphics is able to topple all other integrated video solutions.
Along with the best-integrated graphics performance yet, when you get a motherboard based on the NVIDIA IGP, you will also get the other features that have made the GeForce4 series such a high seller. The nView technology, which will allow for multiple display combinations is there, and so is the integrated TV encoder and HDTV processor. This means that your IGP based motherboard could have two VGA outputs or a single VGA output along with a TV output. And though a DVI output is not directly supported through as simple a process, motherboard manufacturers will be able to offer a small riser card for the AGP slot that will filter the information through a DVI converter.
Also, just like the SPP version of the nForce2, the IGP will offer an 8x AGP slot and the same 800 MB/s HyperTransport connection to the rest of the motherboard components.