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NVIDIA Rushes Into PCI Express With nForce4

nForce4, nForce4 Ultra, nForce4 SLI

ChipsetnForce4nForce4 UltranForce4 SLI
DesignSingle-ChipSingle-ChipSingle-Chip
Socket754/939939/940939/940
CPU SupportSempron, Athlon64Athlon64, Athlon64 FXAthlon64, Athlon64 FX
HT-Link800 MHz1 GHz1 GHz
MemoryDDR400Dual-DDR400Dual-DDR400Dual-DDR400
ECC SupportNoNoNo
Max. Memory4 GB4 GB4 GB
AGPNoNoNo
PCI Express20 Lanes,16+1+1+120 Lanes,16+1+1+120 Lanes,configurable
PCI5x 32 Bit PCI 2.35x 32 Bit PCI 2.35x 32 Bit PCI 2.3
USB 2.010 Ports10 Ports10 Ports
Firewire/1394NoNoNo
UltraATA2 UltraATA/133 Channels2 UltraATA/133 Channels2 UltraATA/133 Channels
Serial ATA4 SATA Ports 150 MB/s4 SATA2 Ports 300 MB/s4 SATA2 Ports 300 MB/s
RAIDSATA & UltraATASATA & UltraATASATA & UltraATA
NetworkingNative GbENative GbENative GbE
SN EngineNoYesYes
AudioAC97 7.1 SoundAC97 7.1 SoundAC97 7.1 Sound
Firewall 2.0YesYesYes
nTuneYesYesYes
SLI SupportNoNoYes

Active Armor With Firewall

Active Armor is the name for the first integrated hardware engine for network firewall operations. We don't need to mention the importance of securing your computer from unauthorized access. Now, there is a hardware unit that takes care of TCP/IP packet inspection.

Since conventional software firewalls running under Microsoft Windows consume a considerable amount of processing time (see image above), NVIDIA's approach is to take care of most of the steps required to parse and inspect network packets in hardware. While we did not have the time to do extensive testing of all the nForce4 features, we were at least able to confirm a noticeable drop in CPU usage under high network traffic conditions.

For further information, please consult the following articles, where we already took a look at NVIDIA's firewall: