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NVIDIA Rushes Into PCI Express With nForce4

The Board

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Unfortunately, NVIDIA’s reference board hit our lab only a couple of days before launch. Because of this, we had little time to test all the features. The board is equipped with a Marvell GbE chip and an AC97 sound system based on a Realtek PHY. There are four PCI slots, two x1 PCI Express slots and the x16 PCI Express graphics slot. Talking about layout would not make much sense here, since this board is meant for testing and benchmarking only.

While we did not have problems going through our benchmark suite, we faced some troubles when trying to exceed the boundaries of regular testing that is performed by most magazines. Here’s what we have found :

  • NVIDIA’s integrated SATA RAID seems to have problems with other add-on storage controllers. When installing a Promise FastTrak S150 TX2 Plus (BIOS 1.00.37), the system would not detect the presence of any SATA storage devices connected to the integrated ports.
  • Due to the problem just mentioned, we repeatedly had to reinstall Windows when our array, located on the Promise controller, was lost.
  • Memory SPD values of the Corsair memory used were detected incorrectly.

In addition to these problems, there were other minor issues that mostly could be attributed to a broken motherboard sample. We don’t want to comment on that too much as we’re talking about a reference board that will never be sold. But the findings make clear that there is still some way to go until the new platform is ready to be released to customers.

We were not able to get the network interface running with NVIDIA’s first driver version, which we downloaded from the press FTP server.