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Test Board: NVIDIA's Reference Motherboard

NVIDIA's nForce2 Ultra Boosts AthlonXP's Chipset Power Base
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In a previous article, we've written extensively about the technical details of the nForce2 chipset. With this latest chipset, a considerable innovation lies in the fact that the NVIDIA 100 MBit Controller was replaced by the current Gigabit model. This supports Jumbo Frames (up to 9,000 Bytes instead of 1,500), Checksum Offloading, TCP Segmentation Offload, Traffic Prioritization and the integrated hardware firewall, which sets this network interface clearly above most other on-board solutions. Even the number of USB 2.0 connections was increased from six to eight.

The RAID-Modi 0, 1 or 0+1 can be used with all of the available ATA connections (four devices with UltraATA and two Serial ATA ports). Therefore, the user has a high degree of flexibility.

The Gigabit version naturally inherited all of the other features of the MCP-T: the Audio Processing Unit with Dolby Digital Encoder, DirectX 8 Audio in hardware, 1394a/FireWire controller and the second network port for 100 MBit/s.

Alternatively, NVIDIA also makes an nForce2 RAID MCP available which, while it offers the Serial ATA controller together with RAID functionality, has to do without the Gigabit-MAC.

The System Platform Processor (SPP) includes the AGP-8X interface and the dual-channel memory controller, which is still capable of high performance.

The actual innovation lies in the Southbridge, the Gigabit MCP (Media & Communications Processor). This component includes the new Gigabit Ethernet controller as well as both SATA ports.
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