AMD Quad FX platform required not only new CPUs, but also new chipsets and new mainboards. AMD selected Nvidia to be its chipset partner for a reason: they have quite a bit of experience in the server as well as desktop chipset development. Especially, since Nvidia has long had all the necessary components for the solution AMD needs for its Quad FX system.
For the new Quad FX platform Nvidia introduced a special core logic set called nForce 680a SLI. The name of this product sounds very similar to nForce 680i SLI we have reviewed recently (for details see our article called Nvidia nForce 680i SLI Chipset Review) and there is a reason for that too. Just like the new chipset for the Conroe processors, Nvidia nForce 680a SLI contains fifth generation nForce component chips. To be more exact, nForce 680a SLI is none other but a combination of two nForce 570 SLI and there is nothing really innovative about it. Actually, you can even see from the chart below that nForce 680a SLI = 2 x nForce 570 SLI.
Nvidia nForce 680a SLI
Nvidia nForce 570 SLI
No doubt, Nvidia developed a special chipset for Quad FX without any effort. Especially since the two chips of this core logic set are connected with one another via one of the system CPUs. In fact, this should guarantee that Quad FX system will also run normally with only one CPU installed, not to mention that the overall system design will be simpler in this case.
No wonder that the diagnostic utilities still see the old chipset there:
As a result, Nvidia has every right to be proud of the fantastic features their nForce 680a SLI boasts, as it actually has twice the features of the nForce 570 SLI. This chipset supports two PCI Express x16 graphics busses and two PCI Express x8 busses. They can be used for SLI and Quad SLI configurations or for physics accelerators. Also there are a few PCI and PCI Express x1 busses available. Nvidia nForce 680a SLI supports 12 Serial ATA-300 ports, 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 20 USB 2.0 ports.