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UPDATE: NVIDIA Corp.'s representatives said there are two versions of the 'plain' nForce4 product: one for Socket 754 chips and another for Socket 939 infrastructure. The former does only support 800MHz HT bus, the latter can operate with chips featuring 1000MHz HyperTransport interconnection. We remove the claim that the nForce4 cannot work with AMD's latest AMD64 central processing units with 1000MHz HT bus.

Mainboard partners of NVIDIA Corp., a leading developer of graphics and platform technologies, are currently expected to release their NVIDIA nForce4 SLI-based mainboards commercially in two – four weeks or more from now, claim reports from various Asia-based web-sites. A slight delay in availability of the platforms was reportedly caused by a minor flaw with print circuit boards design.

NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Comes First

NVIDIA nForce4 core-logic is NVIDIA’s latest media and communication processor for AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Sempron series of central processing units. The nForce4-series chipsets are among the first PCI Express chipsets that sport all currently available and yet-to-be-released microprocessors from Advanced Micro Devices, including AMD Athlon 64 FX, AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Sempron chips with 1000MHz HyperTransport bus. The nForce4 Ultra and SLI product series also offer an array of technologies designed to make computing more secure, efficient and rapid, such as NVIDIA RAID, NVIDIA ActiveArmor firewall, NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet, Serial ATA-300 and other important technologies, like USB 2.0, FireWire, 8-channel AC’97 audio and so on.

Santa Clara, California-based NVIDIA positions its nForce4 products according to the needs of various markets: nForce4 SLI is designed for hardcore gamers, it sports all the latest processors and even contains enhancements for NVIDIA’s multi-GPU technology SLI; nForce4 Ultra is developed with high-end desktops and workstations in mind: it sports every capability advertised by NVIDIA, but cannot power systems with two graphics cards; nForce4 is targeted at OEMs and system integrators, lacks advanced security capabilities and support for SLI and Serial ATA-300.

NVIDIA’s nForce4 SLI is currently one of the world’s most-advanced core-logic products in terms of functionality and the company wants it to be the first-to-market among the nForce4-series products.

NVIDIA’s SLI is a technology that enables two NVIDIA-based graphics cards to operate in a single workstation or PC delivering higher graphics horsepower. A special mainboard with two PCI Express x16 slots is required for such configuration. According to NVIDIA’s estimates, typical performance advantage dual NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra bring is about 75% - 80% when operating on a system running NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset that boasts special enhancements for Multi-GPU technology. NVIDIA’s approach requires special circuitry to be incorporated into GPUs and, for extra speed gain, into core-logic.

Mainboard Makers to Redesign nForce4

Microstar International showcased its K8N Diamond mainboard at a store in Tokyo, Japan, claims Akiba PC Hotline web-site. The mainboard was said to be an engineering sample only and claimed to have differences with the final version that is projected to be available commercially in mid-December in Tokyo.

Hong Kong-based web-site HKEPC.com states that the final revision of the NVIDIA nForce4 SLI mainboard is only due to be mass produced in two weeks time at least, as mainboard makers have to perform a slight redesign of their products. The web-site does not indicate which mainboard makers are on-track to start mass production of the nForce4 SLI-based platforms in two weeks timeframe.

In case mainboard manufacturers start mass-production of NVIDIA nForce4-powered platforms only in two weeks timeframe, the commercial mainboards are likely to be available in very late December or even in early January.

Given that market positioning of NVIDIA nForce4 SLI are very high-end PCs for gaming, it is unlikely that the company will lose certain designs to rivals as ATI Technologies does not target its RADEON XPRESS 200-series at ultra high-end AMD64 systems, while VIA Technologies is not currently shipping its PCI Express chipsets for AMD-based computers. Still, partners of NVIDIA may miss certain pre-Christmas sales with the lack of the nForce4-based mainboards, if the report about two-week delay in Taiwan is correct.

Official representatives for NVIDIA Corp. did not immediately respond to enquiry seeking for comment.

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