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NVIDIA engineers took into account this feature and implemented it exactly this way when designing their nForce Professional core logic. This chipset consists of two micro-chips: nForce Professional 2200 chip similar to nForce4 Ultra MCP (media and communications processor) and nForce Professional 2050, which is very similar to the previous one but has limited functionality. These two chips can be used together or separately. Their combination defines the features of each particular mainboard. In order to distinguish more clearly between nForce Professional 2200 and nForce Professional 2050 let me offer you a comparative chart where we will list their features side by side with those of nForce4 Ultra/SLI MCP:

nForce4
SLI/Ultra

nForce
Professional 2200

nForce
Professional 2050

Processor bus

1GHz HyperTransport

1GHz HyperTransport

1GHz HyperTransport

PCI Express
busses

20 independently
configured lanes

20 independently
configured lanes

1 x PCI Express x16
3 x PCI Express x1

SLI support

Yes

Yes

None

USB 2.0

10 ports

10 ports

None

Serial ATA

3Gbit/s

3Gbit/s

3Gbit/s

Serial ATA ports

4

4

4

Parallel ATA
channels

2

2

0

RAID support

0, 1, 0+1

0, 1, 0+1

0, 1, 0+1

Gigabit Ethernet

Yes

Yes

Yes

Secure Networking Engine

Yes

Yes

Yes

NVIDIA Firewall 2.0

Yes

Yes

Yes

PCI (32bit) bus

Yes

Yes

None

Integrated sound

8-channel AC97

8-channel AC97

None

As we can see, nForce Professional 2200 is similar to nForce4 Ultra/SLI, and nForce Professional 2050 with very limited functionality can only perform as a companion chip.

From here we can derive typical configurations of nForce Professional based systems. A dual-processor workstation based on nForce Professional 2200 chip can offer pretty much the same functionality as any nForce4 Ultra based mainboard designed for computer enthusiasts. The dual-processor configurations support is implemented solely through the AMD Opteron CPUs, which boast three HyperTransport busses instead of only one by Athlon 64.

If the mainboard developer decides to expand the functionality of his product, he may pair the nForce professional 2200 chip with an nForce Professional 2050 chip. In this case the mainboard will support more Serial ATA ports (8) and two Gigabit Ethernet controllers instead of one. However, the most exciting thing about a system like that is the possibility to lay out two fully-fledged PCI Express x16 busses on the same mainboard PCB. This feature can come in handy for building SLI configurations, which are also supported by NVIDIA’s professional Quadro FX graphics card family. Moreover, in this case the SLI mode will be more efficient than the SLI mode in nForce4 SLI based systems, where the second graphics card of the pair is installed into a PCI Express bus cut down to x8.

Although we have just discussed the architecture of dual-processor NVIDIA nForce Professional based systems, you can apply the same approach to building a single- or quad-processor platform. NVIDIA nForce Professional is a pretty universal solution from this standpoint.

ASUS K8N-DL mainboard uses the simplest modification of the nForce Professional chipset. So, there is only one MCP on the board and it is none other but nForce professional 2200. Note that all diagnostic utilities recognize NVIDIA nForce Professional 2200 MCP and NVIDIA nForce4 as one and the same solution. Don’t you think it is a great argument proving the identity of these two chips?

This “universal” chip determines most features of the ASUS K8N-DL mainboard. This chip is responsible for the implementation of the PCI Express x16 slot, PCI Express x1 slot, two 32-bit PCI slots, four Serial ATA-II ports (out of 8), Parallel ATA ports, ten USB 2.0 ports and integrated sound, with an 8-channel Realtek ALC850 codec in the analog part.

 
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