New and Improved: NVIDIA nForce3 250 Gb Chipset

NVIDIA nForce3 250 Gb In Detail

The package has remained the same, so manufacturers can incorporate the chip 1:1 into existing motherboard layouts.

The nForce3 250 Gb is pin-compatible with its predecessor, so board manufacturers can produce boards at a minimal cost with the new chipset. However, that also shows that the serial ATA controller must already have been included in the previous model, as adding connectors would have changed the pinout.

The chipset's features, almost all of which are integrated into a single processor component, include:

  1. A HyperTransport interface with the processor with 800 MHz and 16 bits for up and downstream data flow of up to 1 GHz;
  2. AGP 8X;
  3. 32 bit PCI for up to 6 bus master slots (PCI 2.3);
  4. USB 2.0 controller with a maximum of 6 ports;
  5. 802.3 Ethernet MAC for 10, 100 or 1.000 Mbit/s;
  6. Dual UltraATA/133 controller;
  7. Two serial ATA ports;
  8. AC97 audio interface Ver. 2.1.

Thanks to the connection via HyperTransport, the chipset is still suited equally for socket 754 and socket 940 and 939.

RAID Support

For serial ATA, NVIDIA supports numerous RAID modes. If only the two SATA ports are used, only arrays with two drives are possible in RAID 0 or RAID 1. What is interesting, however, is the simultaneous use of the two UltraATA/133 ports to allow arrays above RAID 0+1 as well. Two RAID arrays working independently of each other are also possible. Anyone who wants to take advantage of all the possibilities can use up to six hard drives (two SATA plus four UltraATA/133's) in arrays or individually.

NVIDIA additionally allows the block size to be controlled in the RAID array. Between 4 kB and 128 kB, the user has plenty of leeway. Although small block sizes are practical in the case of frequent and random access and for the purpose of efficient memory use, the largest possible blocks afford higher sequential transfer rates.

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