NVIDIA has just bolstered its chipset offerings for Intel processors with two new additions, the nForce4 Ultra and the nForce4 SLI XE. The new chipsets target more affordable systems, with the SLI XE geared toward sub-$99 motherboards and the Ultra targeting sub-$89 mobos. NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI Intel Edition and X16 chipsets will continue to exist at the high-end, targeting boards that cost more than $100 and $150, respectively.
As one might expect from a couple of budget offerings, the nForce4 Ultra and SLI XE don't bring a whole lot of new features to the table. Like NVIDIA's other Intel Edition core logic, the chipsets support a 1066MHz front-side bus and DDR2 memory at up to 667MHz. However, unlike the nForce4 SLI Intel Edition, NVIDIA's new chipsets are compatible with all of Intel's dual-core processors, including the Pentium D 820 and 900-series chips. (The original nForce4 SLI Intel Edition didn't support the Pentium D 820, and motherboards based on it may or may not support the new Pentium D 900 series, depending on their designs.) The new chipsets also support High Definition Audio and RAID 5, and the SLI XE chipset can split its PCI Express lanes for SLI. These chipsets sport Gigabit Ethernet and are compatible with NVIDIA's firewall software, too, but neither features ActiveArmor hardware acceleration for those features.
According to NVIDIA, the nForce4 Ultra and SLI XE are pin-compatible with one another, so motherboard makers should have an easy time creating solutions based on each. MSI, ECS, Epox, Biostar, Jetway, and Foxconn have already signed on to build motherboards based on the new chipsets, and those boards should be coming soon.
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