Southbridge Battle: 780a, ICH10 and SB750, Compared

Nvidia: 780a SLI MCP Integrated Chipset

The nForce 780a SLI MCP is Nvidia’s interpretation of a chipset for AMD’s current platform. There’s also the 980a SLI chipset, which inherits all of the 780a’s features, but adds support for Socket AM3 and DDR3 memory. We did not have a 980a SLI motherboard at our disposal for this article, which is fine since the southbridge RAID performance should be identical anyway.

Because the nForce 780a is a single-chip integrated solution with on-die graphics, Nvidia requires an nForce 200 chip to provide three-way SLI connectivity. However, storage capabilities are also part of the 780a chip. There are six SATA/300 ports with support for NCQ and one UltraATA/133 channel for legacy devices. Nvidia’s MediaShield technology supports all common RAID modes, including RAID 0, 1, 0+1, and 5.

MSI K9N2 Diamond: 780a SLI Integrated Chipset

MSI’s K9N2 Diamond is the firm’s flagship model for AMD platforms using an Nvidia chipset. The board is based on the 780a SLI MCP, but, like our other two manufacturers, MSI decided to offer additional storage connectivity. Six SATA/300 ports and an UltraATA/133 controller are part of the 780a, but an additional JMicron controller adds two more eSATA ports.

These can be found in the I/O panel, along with four USB 2.0 and twin Gigabit Ethernet ports, as well as a DVI display output and FireWire ports. The six internal ports are all fueled by Nvidia's 780a SLI core logic. Two ports can only be used as long as you don’t install a long PCI Express card. The SATA cables have to be plugged in straight from the top of the board, while the four other ports were bent by 90° to point away from the PCB and toward the storage devices.