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Unfortunately, nForce-based mainboards only work with AMD processors. My question to an NVIDIA representative about NVIDIA’s plans concerning any nForce chipsets for Intel CPUs received the following answer: “NVIDIA is considering this, but not for the near future”.

It should be noted that not all nForce chipsets feature an integrated APU. In NVIDIA’s terminology, the chip that processes audio/visual content and is responsible for communication is called “Media and Communication Processor” (MCP). So, the South Bridge, nForce MCP, with the APU and SoundStorm units, is bridging the gap between computer games and reality. As a part of the chipset, the APU uses five internal processors for work with audio streams. Such complex hardware solutions are evidently intended for hardcore games and multimedia fans. The NVIDIA website has the following table listing the main features of the NVIDIA APU and SoundStorm (I put it down as it is, with comments following):

Feature

NVIDIA nForce/nForce2 APU

NVIDIA SoundStorm

DSP or HW-Accelerated 2D (Stereo) Voices

256 Voices

256 Voices

DSP or HW-Accelerated 3D Voices

64 3D Voices

64 3D Voices

DX8 HW-Submixer*

32 HW-Submixers

32 HW-Submixers

DLS2 Acceleration

 

+

Per Voice Parametric EQ**

+

+

Occlusion and Obstruction

+

+

Near Field Effects

+

+

EAX2 and I3DL2 Reverb

+

+

Global Effects (Reverb, Chorus, etc.)

+

+

Speakers

2 Speakers

2, 4, or 6 Speakers

Microphone/Line Inputs

+

+

SPDIF Interface

No

+

Software and Utilities

Basic

Enhanced

H/W Dolby Digital Encode

No

+

* - The submixer is a unit to mix up several voices into one. The result can be sent to the voice processor for 3D-positioning and applying special effects;
** - The per-voice parametric equalizer is embodied in hardware. It means that with DS3D or DLS, the audio processor can correct (compensate) the frequency characteristic of each of the processed voices (many EAX 2 functions are implemented this way, although not all of them in hardware).

So, as I have said, some versions of the South Bridge (MCP) don’t have the APU (although all versions resemble each other). Today, there are three modifications:

  • MCP: both nForce1 and nForce2 with the MCP index come without the APU (they mainly differ from one another by the USB support. nForce MCP works with USB 1.1, while nForce2 MCP - with USB 2.0);
  • MCP-D: it is nForce1 with the APU (and USB 1.1 support);
  • MCP-T: nForce2 with the APU (as well as FireWire and DualNet).


nForce2 MCP-T South Bridge

The distinguishing feature of these three modifications is their price. The price is the sum of all license fees for the involved technologies. Thus, Dolby required licensing. Network technologies (3Com Ethernet and FireWire) have their cost, too, and they make the MCP2-T modification more expensive. It’s clear that a mainboard based on the basic, “barebone” nForce MCP chipset would be a standard product with an AC’97 codec for sound output and the CPU for sound processing. But the price is all-important, so many mainboard makers prefer to use this simplest MCP variant. Other functions are usually available in “deluxe” mainboard versions, like ASUS A7N8X. The package reads that the product supports Dolby Digital, Dual LAN, Serial ATA and IEEE1394, while the standard version lists them as “optional”.


The Deluxe version of ASUS A7N8X

 
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