Today NVIDIA is taking the wraps off some interesting new additions to its nForce Professional line of core logic products. NVIDIA trumpets these new nForce Professional chips as the industry's first PCI Express platform for Opteron processors, but there's much more to this scalable family of core logic products than just PCI-E.
The first addition to the nForce line is the nForce Professional 2200, which sports a 16-bit HyperTransport link capable of running at speeds as high as 1GHz, 20 lanes of PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet with a TCP/IP offload engine, and two ATA/133 channels, four Serial ATA II channels with Native and Tagged Command Queuing, and RAID 0, 1, and 0+1 support. In other words, nForce4 for Opteron.
The nForce Professional 2200's partner in crime is the nForce Professional 2050, a companion chip of sorts that replicates the 2200's PCI Express, Gigabit Ethernet, and Serial ATA II RAID capabilities on a separate chip. The nForce Professional 2050 isn't a standalone chipset, but up to three can be combined with a single 2200, yielding 80 lanes of PCI-E, four GigE ports, and a staggering 16 SATA-II ports with support for RAID arrays that span drives connected to nForce Professional 2200 and 2050 chips alike.
Rather than hooking into the nForce Professional 2200 like a traditional south bridge, the 2050 connects directly to an Opteron processor's HyperTransport link. As such, it takes at least two Opteron processors to support one nForce Pro 2200 and three 2050s, but you won't have to worry about a chipset interconnect bottleneck.
While server platforms will no doubt take advantage of the extra GigE and storage options that the new nForce Professional tag team boasts, the most intriguing platform for this core logic pair may be high-end workstations that could offer a full 16 PCI-E lanes to each of a pair of graphics cards for Quadro SLI.
Motherboards based on the new nForce Professional chips should arrive soon and I already have one in for testing. Expect to see workstation boards from Abit, Asus, Iwill, and Tyan.
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