Today NVIDIA is announcing a new K8 chipset family that brings GeForce 6 graphics to the nForce4 platform. The chipset family is made up of a pair of interchangeable north and south bridge chips, with the former sporting DirectX 9-glass integrated graphics derived from NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series. Integrated graphics is so important to NVIDIA's new north bridge chips that rather than being branded with the nForce name, the new chips have been dubbed GeForce 6150 and GeForce 6100.
As you might expect from the GeForce 6 series, the GeForce 6100s support DirectX 9, Shader Model 3.0, and NVIDIA's PureVideo technology. The chips have two pixel pipelines, one vertex unit, and 425MHz and 475MHz clock speeds for the GeForce 6100 and 6150, respectively. NVIDIA is using more than just clock speeds to differentiate the two north bridge chips, though. The GeForce 6150 has also been endowed with significantly more robust video output and playback capabilities than the 6100.
|GeForce 6150||GeForce 6100|
|MPEG2/WMV9 playback||HD 720p/1080i||SD|
|Video scaling||High quality (5x4)||Basic (2x2)|
|PCI Express slots||
1 x PCI-E x16
2 x PCI-E x1
1 x PCI-E x16
1 x PCI-E x1
With a TV encoder, support for DVI and component output, and the ability to accelerate high definition MPEG2 and WMV9 playback, the GeForce 6150 looks ripe for duty in home theater and media PCs. The GeForce 6100, on the other hand, seems best suited for extremely low-end systems. Interestingly, though, both chips are being manufactured on a 90-nano fabrication processa first for NVIDIA.
NVIDIA's new GeForce 6100s are designed to interface with a couple of new south bridge chips that retain the nForce name. These chips are a part of the nForce4 family and inherit many of their features, such as a 1.6GB/s HyperTransport chipset interconnect and support for 300MB/sec Serial ATA transfer rates, from existing nForce4 chipsets. Fortunately, the new nForce4s haven't inherited basic AC'97 audio from their predecessors; the new chips have been upgraded to Intel's High Definition Audio standard.
|nForce 430||nForce 410|
|Serial ATA ports||4||2|
|RAID||0, 1, 0+1, 5||0, 1|
As you can see, the nForce 430 is the better-equipped of the new south bridge chips. The 430 has all the bases covered, including support for four-drive RAID 0+1 and 5 arrays, and ActiveArmor-accelerated Gigabit Ethernet. By comparison, the nForce 410's two Serial ATA ports and basic 10/100 Fast Ethernet look pretty weak. At least NVIDIA's firewall software is supported across the entire nForce4 line.
NVIDIA has designed its new chipset components to be pin-compatible, so motherboard manufacturers can mix and match GeForce and nForce components to suit different markets and hit different price points. It's also worth noting that the GeForce 6100 series is capable of running alongside a discrete GeForce graphics card, allowing users to take advantage of extra monitor outputs. nTune should be fully supported by the new chipsets, too, provided that motherboard manufacturers put the proper hooks into their BIOSes.
The first motherboards equipped with NVIDIA's new core logic will be available by the end of the month, and Asus, DFI, ECS, Foxconn, Gigabyte, Shuttle, and others have already signed on to build boards. System builders and OEMs will release products based on the new chipsets in early October, and given the GeForce 6150's extensive array of video features, expect to see plenty of media boxes mixed in with the usual lineup of budget and business systems.
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