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 18 January 2006
 Technology Report
 Dr. Adrian Wong
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NVIDIA nForce4 SLI XE and nForce4 Ultra Technology Report
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The NVIDIA nForce4 SLI XE & nForce4 Ultra

NVIDIA is targeting the two new chipsets at the i945P. In their benchmarks pitching both nForce4 SLI XE and nForce4 Ultra against the Intel i945P chipset, here is what they found.

NVIDIA nForce4 SLI XE & nForce4 Ultra vs Intel i945P

Running with just a single GPU and not capitalizing on the nForce4 SLI XE's SLI capability, both NVIDIA chipsets apparently showed a performance advantage of up to 25% in memory and 11% in games. Overall system benchmarks like PCMark only showed a 4% improvement. But if their scores are correct, then the two nForce4 chipsets has a distinct advantage over the Intel i945X even without SLI coming into play.

We asked NVIDIA if the results are due to any hanky-panky like ASUS' PEG Link Mode "feature". They assured us that NVIDIA was totally on the level and the performance improvement was obtained without the overclocking of any component in the system.

Here, NVIDIA pitched the two new nForce4 chipsets versus the Intel i945P in a feature comparison. If the chart above shows its performance advantage, then this chart shows its advantage in value-added features.

As you can see, the two new nForce4 chipsets come with many built-in features that is not available in the i945P chipset. While some may not be critical features, they still add value to the chipset.

As mentioned earlier, these two chipsets may come with the NVIDIA ActiveArmor Firewall, but they do not have hardware acceleration for this feature. Only the higher-end nForce4 SLI X16 and nForce SLI chipsets have hardware acceleration built-in for the firewall.

Incidentally, the only difference between the nForce4 SLI XE and the nForce4 Ultra seem to be the SLI feature in the nForce4 SLI XE. Otherwise, both chipsets appear to be totally similar in features and performance.


The nForce4 SLI XE & nForce4 Ultra Block Diagrams

Here's the nForce4 SLI XE block diagram. This chipset supports all Pentium 4 processors including the new dual-core Pentium D and Celeron D processors.

NVIDIA nForce4 SLI XE block diagram

While it supports SLI, it can only support two PCIe X8 slots in SLI. Alternatively, it can support a single X16 PCIe slot. Now, take a look at the nForce4 Ultra block diagram.

NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra block diagram

At first glance, you will spot the biggest difference - it doesn't support SLI. It can only support a single X16 PCIe slot. But if you take a closer look, you will note that the nForce4 Ultra supports a maximum of four PCIe X1 slots, which is one more than what the nForce4 SLI XE supports.


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