The Southbridge Battle: nforce 6 MCP vs. ICH7 vs. ICH8

Test Setup

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System Hardware
ProcessorIntel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (Conroe 65 nm, 2.93 ghz, 4 MB L2 Cache)
Nforce MCP MotherboardEVGA nforce 680i SLIChipset : Nvidia nforce 680i SLI, BIOS : P20
Intel ICH7 MotherboardMSI 975X Platinum Powerup EditionChipset : Intel 975X, Intel 82801GR (ICH7R), BIOS : V7.2
Intel ICH8 MotherboardGigabyte GA-965P-DQ6Chipset : Intel P965, 82801HR (ICH8), BIOS : F7
Common Hardware
RAM2x 1024 MB DDR2-800 (CL 3.0-4-3-9)Corsair CM2X1024-6400C3 XMS6403v1.1
Graphics CardHIS Radeon X1900XTX iceq3GPU : ATI X1900XTX (650 mhz)RAM : 512 MB GDDR3 (1550 mhz)
System Hard Drive1x 150 GB 10.000 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/150Western Digital WD1500ADFD
Hard Drives for RAID4x 150 GB 10.000 RPM, 8 MB Cache, SATA/150Western Digital WD1500ADFD
DVD-ROMGigabyte GO-D1600C (16x)
Performance MeasurementsSimplisoftware hdtach 3.0.1
I/O-PerformanceIometer 2003.05.10File server benchmarkWeb server benchmarkDatabase benchmarkWorkstation benchmark
USB PerformanceMicrosoft Robocopy XP010
ATI GraphicsCatalyst Suite 6.11
Intel Chipset sSoftware Installation Utility
Nvidia nforce 680i SeriesForceware 9.53
DirectxVersion : 9.0c (4.09.0000.0904)
OSWindows XP, Build 2600 SP2

Storage Subsystem Test

We used four Western Digital Raptor WD1500 for all the storage subsystem tests, as these are extremely fast and also support Native Command Queuing. All Southbridges were equipped with these drives and went through our benchmarking session in RAID modes 0, 1+0 and RAID 5. We did throughput measurements with HD Tach 3.0.1 and I/O benchmarks with iometer 2003.05.10.

USB Controller Test

For the USB controller test we attached two external 3.5" hard drives, both capable of delivering almost 30 MB/s, and plugged them into two adjacent USB 2.0 ports and two independent USB 2.0 ports, so we could check performance when two devices operate on the same and on different controllers. We used different WD Raptor hard drives as data source/target to read and write data.