The flagship nVIDIA nForce 590 SLI
chipset is aimed directly at the enthusiast market, and it is broken
down in to two discreet chipsets, the C51XE Northbridge which is built on TSMC's 90nm
manufacturing, and the MCP55PXE which is manufactured on TSMC's 140nm
manufacturing. The nVIDIA nForce
590 SLI chipsets have a total of 46 PCI Express lanes, and these are divided
into 9 links. The C51XE SPP Northbridge supplies one PCI Express x16 link while
it's the MCP55PXE that has the rest of the PCI Express lanes.
MCP55PXE supports one PCI Express x16 link, which means users get full videocard
bandwidth when running two nVIDIA videocards in SLI. The MCP Southbridge has a
PCI Express x8 link and six PCI Express x1 links, depending on what the
motherboard vendor decides to implement. Whichever way you slice it, there's
plenty of high bandwidth PCI Express lanes to go around!
nVidia MCP55PXE Southbridge is definitely the workhorse of the two, and it
boasts a whole host of other features as well. The Southbridge handles up to 5
bus mastering PCI slots, but again it's up to the motherboard manufacturer to
decide how many PCI slots to equip on a motherboard. There is a direct link to
the Southbridge for two Gigabit Ethernet connections, and these will include
nVIDIA's DualNet technology of course.
|nVidia nForce 500-Series Feature
||nVidia nForce 590 SLI|
||940-pin Socket AM2|
|nVida SLI Support
||Yes, (2 x16)|
||Native Gigabit Ethernet
||0, 1, 0+1, 5|
|PCI Express Lanes
||High Definition Audio
nForce 590 SLI Assorted Technologies
has upgraded the integrated audio solution to include Intel's High Definition
Audio Azalia standard. With Serial ATA going the way it is, there is only one
IDE channels integrated now. To balance out storage requirements, the number of
Serial ATA II (3Gbps) ports has been increased to six.
Continuing on the hard drive front, nVIDIA's Serial ATA II channels adhere to
the Serial ATA 2.0 spec and support RAID mode 0, 1, 0+1 and 5.
technology looks very interesting, and what it does is basically give
the user greater control over network processes. All high end and mainstream
nVIDIA chipsets will now by default support two Gigabit connections. Users can
combine the two connections for more bandwidth, and there is hardware TCP/IP
Acceleration which lowers CPU utilization.
Another very cool feature is nVIDIA's FirstPacket
Technology which allows you to prioritize network traffic. So for example, if
you are a gamer that tends to do multiple things while you're online, you can
prioritize your game traffic so that ping times are not affected by the other
processes going on in the background.
When the nVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset is equipped with
GeForce 7900GTX class or higher videocards, the chipset
will automatically activate the nVidia LinkBoost
technology. LinkBoost increases the PCI Express x16 buses to the
videocard by 25%, and it also does the same for the HyperTransport link between
the North and Southbridge chipsets. While increasing the bandwidth PCI Express
bandwidth to GeForce 7900GTX might be a bit redundant, future generation
videocards should see a nice gain from this setting.
On the memory front, the nVidia 590 SLI chipset
introduces something called the Enhanced
Performance Profiles or EPP. This is an open memory standard put forth
by Corsair and nVIDIA which takes over where JEDEC's SPD leaves off. As the
Enhanced Performance Profiles description implies, it adds performance profiles
to the memory SPD in addition to the conservative compatibility settings already
EPP compliant memory is dubbed "SLI Ready" memory on
nVidia platforms (great marketing on nVIDIA's part) and allows the system to
dynamically tighten up memory timings and increase voltages for better
performance with no fuss. Whether you're a novice or experienced computer user,
the benefits of EPP are immediate. Corsair was the initial memory
manufacturer out the door with this technology, but others are already following
Finally nVIDIA has greatly upgraded its nTune software which allow users more control over
their systems. Realistically with nTune, there is no longer a need to go into
the BIOS to adjust settings, now you can do everything within WindowsXP!
Up next, overclocking the Asus M2 Crosshair