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Review: NVIDIA's nForce4

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 19 October 2004, 00:00


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We've covered plenty of AMD64 products here at HEXUS since it launched with Athlon FX-51 and Opteron just over a year ago. We've covered the CPUs, mainboards and core logic dutifully as they've arrived, like the rest of our peers. In that year long period we've seen the enthusiast jump to the platform from high-end Pentium 4 in droves, those enthusiasts well aware of the strong performance you get from the processors in the range, the competetive pricing and the high-end feature sets the core logic brings. However the switch to Socket 939 has been less well recieved of late, and there's one reason behind it; timing.

You see Intel have recently released their new Pentium 4 mass-market desktop platform, and despite a recent well publicised cancellation of the 4GHz Pentium 4, the rest of the platform is here to stay. Trick SATA configurations and PCI Express graphics slots are now the norm on the Intel side of the fence, and it's that latter part of things that's caused quite a few enthusiasts to hold off grabbing a Socket 939 AMD system. PCI Express is going to be the graphics card interconnect of choice for years to come, and with ATI recently releasing more than a few X800 XT boards to retail recently, NVIDIA's 6600 GT already at mass-market retail and selling well and the 6800 range from NVIDIA and the X700 range from ATI not too far away now, the choice of performance cards to slide into that new PEG16X slot is now abundant.

Everyone realises the benefits of PCI Express for graphics. Higher bandwidth and more power available to GPUs in the slot (indeed you can run X800 XT without its external power connector on some P4 desktop boards that stick to the power requirements to the letter) are the basic goodies, multiple PCI Express graphics cards in a single system are a close second.

Given that Socket 939 is where people want to put their money, and with the most recent graphics cards all launched on PCI Express and often PCI Express only, enthusiasts (and the market in general it seems) want to put two and two together to make a turbocharged four, cementing their upgrade path and getting excellent performance. The problem is obvious; where is the PCI Express core logic for AMD64?

I briefed you on VIA's PCI Express plans for AMD64 recently, but it's NVIDIA and their nForce4 plans that have the enthusiast salivating. The Inquirer have been the main source of sneaky peaks, with board shots from the hardware NVIDIA has been showing press recently at briefings world-wide and tidbits of information on the rest of the core logic.

And unless the title of this article has escaped you so far, you'll know that it's nForce4 that's officially debuting today. Bringing PCI Express to AMD64 (and that's just the start of it!), it's what many of you have been chomping at the bit for. Thank your most loveable deity, and I can now delete all those "Please tell me about nForce4!" emails.

Read on instead of firing up Outlook.