The NVIDIA nForce2
The nForce2 is NVIDIA's second thrust into the motherboard chipset market. The original nForce had many things going for it - strong specifications, lots of features and the NVIDIA name tacked to it. However, it failed to achieve much headway due to its poor overclockability and high price. Still, it was a remarkable effort for a chip house that until then, only designed graphics processors!
Despite the lacklustre success of the original nForce chipset, NVIDIA remains adamant in their efforts to conquer the motherboard chipset market. And now, they are back with the second generation nForce chipset!
Boasting official 333MHz front side bus and DDR333 (with unofficial DDR400) support, the NVIDIA nForce2 also supports the new AGP8X transfer protocol which provides up to 2.1GB of bandwidth on the AGP bus. The IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) was updated with a GeForce4 MX core running at 250MHz. While it's not a DirectX 8-compliant part, it's still a pretty respectable GPU for an onboard solution.
Although there's very little information on it, the DASP (Dynamic Adaptive Speculative Pre-processor) was apparently updated with new algorithms, thus earning it a second generation label. Whether its performance has improved though is hard to say. Connectivity-wise, the nForce2 now features a six-port USB 2.0 controller, Firewire support, DualNet capability and an ATA/133 controller.
To offer greater flexibility in terms of price and features, there are actually two platform processors as well as two Media and Communications Processors (MCP) to mix and match! The two platform processors are the aforementioned IGP and the new SPP (System Platform Processor) which is basically the IGP without the GeForce4 MX GPU. The MCPs come in two flavours - the basic MCP and MCP-T. The basic MCP come with USB 2.0, ATA/133, NVIDIAs own Ethernet MAC and basic AC'97 audio support. The MCP-T is really the MCP to get. It comes with additional features like Firewire (IEEE-1394a) support, NVIDIA's APU (Audio Processing Unit) and a second Ethernet MAC from 3Com!
ABIT's nForce2 Motherboards
Making use of the modularity of the NVIDIA nForce2 chipset, ABIT intends to offer three different nForce2 motherboards. Their basic nForce2 motherboard is the NF7, which combines the SPP (System Platform Processor) with the MCP. The mid-range model, so to speak, is the NF7-M which is basically the NF7 with an onboard GeForce4 MX GPU. Their final and most feature-packed nForce2 motherboard is the NF7-S which makes use of the SPP + MCP-T combination and comes with an onboard Serial ATA controller.
Today, we will take an in-depth look at the first ABIT nForce2 model to be released - the ABIT NF7-S!