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Earlier this year we told you about NVIDIA nForce2 MCP-S I/O controller for the nForce2-series core-logic sets with Serial ATA-150 support. The company itself remained very tight-lipped on the matter and after massive announcement of different nForce3 products at Computex Taipei 2003 we even started to think that NVIDIA had cancelled the project and its Socket A chipset will never see native Serial ATA-150 support. Apparently, NVIDIA Corporations did not cancel any projects and is now even ready to ship the MCP-S as a part of ABIT AN7 mainboard, some unofficial sources revealed! 

Basically, Socket A technology began to become out of date morally right after the AMD Athlon 64 launch. However, the quantities and pricing of AMD Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX-51 chips still leave quite a lot of space for previous-generation processors even in the high-end of the market. Therefore, NVIDIA, being a very aggressive chipset company, could not miss the opportunity to offer a solution able to compete with rivals’ SiS964 and VIA VT8237 that already have built-in Serial ATA-150 RAID capabilities. Moreover, before implementing the Serial ATA-150 controller into more complex nForce3 core-logic, NVIDIA might need some extra experience with its silicon implementation and in order to get it, the company might need to release a product with built-in Serial ATA-150 logic. Furthermore, if rumors about NVIDIA nForce chipset for Intel Pentium 4 and Prescott processors have ground, the Santa Clara, California-based NVIDIA will also need a separate I/O chip supporting Serial ATA-150.

ABIT is aimed strictly on enthusiasts market and always deploys the latest innovations in order to constantly offer the cutting-edge technology. Its AN7 was announced during Computex Taipei 2003 show as a yet-another NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 mainboard, but, as we see now, this is not a typical nForce2 product:

  • Supports Socket A AMD Athlon XP processors with 200/266/333/400MHz FSB;
  • NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400 chipset, including MCP-S I/O controller;
  • 3 DIMM slots for up to 3GB of PC2100, PC2700 or up to 2GB of PC3200 memory; Note that for dual-channel configurations you have to install a pair of identical memory modules;
  • 5 PCI slots and 1 AGP 8x slot;
  • 2-channel ATA-33/66/100/133 integrated controller;
  • 2 Serial ATA-150 ports;
  • 10/100Mb/s Ethernet controller;
  • FireWire support;
  • 6 USB 2.0 ports;
  • 6-channel NVIDIA SoundStorm audio solution with S/PDIF;
  • ABIT Engineered technologies + ABIT mGuru chip;
  • ATX Form Factor.

The ABIT AN7 mainboard is supposed to become the last advanced Socket A platform from ABIT. The AN7 will doubtless be among the company’s high-end offerings till mid Q1 2004 and after that there will be no need in expensive Socket A solutions.

Pricing of the AN7 mainboard is to be announced by the end of October, when the product is expected to hit the retail shelves.

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