Nvidia rolls out nForce 590 SLI chipset

Santa Clara (CA) - In a day of dueling chipset announcements, Nvidia has rolled out its new nForce 590 SLI MCP chipset. The chipset comes with built-in QoS for gaming traffic and Nvidia's "LinkBoost" which increases PCIe bus speeds with certain video cards. Dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and a RAID 5 SATA controller are also integrated.

As the name suggests, the 590 SLI can handle multiple Nvidia graphics processors. Up to four chips are supported in quad-SLI mode. In addition, the board has features that should appeal to avid gamers: Overclocking is supported through enthusiast BIOS templates and Nvidia's nTune software utility. Gamers may also like "FirstPacket," which prioritizes gaming traffic and promises to reduce lag.

Owners of the latest Nvidia graphics cards will be able to take advantage of "LinkBoost," which increases the bus speeds of the PCIe bus. Motherboard makers like Gigabyte are claiming that you will get up to 25% faster clock speeds when you pop in a LinkBoost-enabled GPU like the GeForce 7900 GTX.

The chipset will also support a proprietary technology called EPP - Enhanced Performance Profile memory. With EPP, configuration information is stored on the RAM chip and enables easier and faster overclocking. Nvidia intends to make EPP an open standard and said it has submitted a proposal to the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council (JEDEC), a RAM standards organization.

The 590 chipset also offers DualNet dual Gigabit Ethernet ports which can offload packet processing which gives the CPU more time for other things. The ports can be combined to provide a bandwidth of up to 2 Gb/s.

Up to six SATA hard drives can be attached on the chipset's single controller. Nvidia claims that it is the first controller that can support two RAID 5 arrays.