NVIDIA planning high-end enthusiast platform?


— 9:11 AM on April 21, 2006

China's HKEPC has a cryptic article up about a so-called NVIDIA "Tritium" enthusiast configuration. The Babel Fish translation isn't much help in deciphering the post, but a reader on HardOCP has submitted a rough translation that makes much more sense. "Tritium" seems to be a platform certification intended for NVIDIA's upcoming high-end nForce 590 SLI chipset, which is expected to be NVIDIA's top-end SLI X16 implementation for the Socket AM2 platform. Apparently, the use of Tritium-certified graphics cards along with a Tritium chipset will raise the PCI Express operating clock 30% above its stock speed. This means a jump from 2.5GHz to 3.25GHz, which would increase the bandwidth of a PCI-E x16 slot from 4GB/s to 5.2GB/s in each direction. Tritium will also bump up the HyperTransport speed between the north and south bridge chips from 1GHz to 1.3GHz, resulting in a bump from 8GB/s to 10.4GB/s.

It's an interesting idea, but the 8GB/s HyperTransport link between SLI X16 motherboards' north and south bridge chips doesn't seem to negatively affect performance when compared to ATI solutions that house all PCI Express lanes on the north bridge. Also, considering the fact that standard SLI motherboards with 2GB/s of unidirectional PCI Express bandwidth per slot aren't any slower than their SLI X16 siblings with 4GB/s per slot, increasing per-slot bandwidth to 5.2GB/s may not be much help either—at least not until graphics cards begin to require a lot more bandwidth. NVIDIA is reportedly considering the expansion of the Tritium concept to memory, though, which could guarantee overclocking performance and compatibility for certified DIMMs used on a Tritium platform. There is no known roadmap for the availability of Tritium-certified systems, so it looks like we'll have to overclock our memory the old-fashioned way for now.

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