NVIDIA nForce4 SLI Mainboards in Mass Production Now – NVIDIA

First PCI Express Mainboards for AMD64 May Emerge in Days, Contrary to Reports

by Anton Shilov
11/30/2004 | 04:01 PM

Despite of the reports on necessity to redesign mainboards based on NVIDIA’s nForce4 SLI chipset, NVIDIA Corp. says there are hardly any problems with the products’ time-to-market and at least some of such platforms will hit the shelves in December with a model from ASUSTeK possible to arrive shortly from now.


No Redesign for nForce4 SLI

“We haven’t heard of any of our partners having to “re-design” their mainboards. I am not sure how or why those rumors get started in the first place,” said Bryan Del Rizzo, Platform Products PR Manager for NVIDIA Corp. in Santa Clara, California.

A report over X-bit labs submitted on Monday based on stories from Asian web-sites claimed that some mainboard makers had to redesign their NVIDIA nForce4 SLI-based mainboards and only then initiate mass-production of such products, which would have affected availability dates for the platforms. However, it seems that at least three mainboard companies – ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte Technology – are not going to delay their product launches because of redesign issues.

ASUS nForce4 SLI - Certified

“From my perspective, it looks like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte will all have SLI certified boards available in December as they are all in mass-production. System builders are queuing up for their pre-order demands too, now that they have boards to test and validate,” Mr. Del Rizzo added.

The NVIDIA SLI certification process includes complex testing and analysis to ensure electrical, mechanical, and thermal compatibility. For PC system integrators, NVIDIA will check thermal measurements and ensure additional shock, power, and vibration tests are conducted on multiple components, including hard drives, fans, and power supplies. For application developers who wish to tune their applications to run best under SLI configurations, NVIDIA is providing performance tools and a complete SLI development system that allow their content to take advantage of additional detail levels and resolutions not previously available to single GPU systems.

Under this new program, products may earn one of two NVIDIA SLI certification logos. The “NVIDIA SLI Ready” logo is for use with components such as SLI-based graphics cards, and SLI-capable motherboards, including those based on NVIDIA nForce4 SLI technology. The “NVIDIA SLI” logo is for use with systems that have SLI-based graphics cards pre-installed with an NVIDIA SLI-Ready mainboard and all the appropriate drivers.

“ASUS’ nForce4 SLI mainboard is already certified by NVIDIA for SLI operation. This would indicate that their board, for all practical purposes, is SLI ready to go. If they are still tweaking BIOSes, that is their prerogative since it is their product. Mainboard makers also have other factors to finalize: box packaging, manuals, drivers, shipping, etc. that could also have an impact on when boards hit the channel,” Mr. Del Rizzo explained X-bit labs.

An ASUS representative in California, USA, confirmed X-bit labs the company’s A8N-SLI Deluxe had been certified by NVIDIA Corp. and said the product is ready to hit the market. The spokesperson declined to elaborate on timeframes.

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 GPU-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.

Anna Filatova, Editor in Chief for X-bit labs, contributed to the report.