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Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 nForce4 Ultra Motherboard Review
Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 nForce4 Ultra Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
The GA-K8NXP-9 is bound to be a favourite solution, for not only does it incorporate PCI Express x16 slot, but it also features a remarkable array of goodies.
 99% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Gigabyte Nov 12 2004   C. Sun  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9

Improved disk controller and RAID support

The second most significant set of features are the upgrades that have been made in the nForce 4 chipset to the drive controller technology. The controller in the nForce 3 chipset was already one of the more innovative solutions on the market, thanks in part to its 'flexible RAID' support. This time around, the NF4 chipset has received a substantial new feature set.

The new nVidia nForce 4 supports up to 4 SATA drives, and four Parallel ATA (IDE) drives. The serial ATA implementation now uses two separate controllers, each supporting a pair of drives for increased performance.

All drives can be configured into RAID 0, 1 or 0+1 arrays, regardless of which controller they reside on; meaning you can have RAID arrays combining SATA and IDE drives, or use IDE drives as spare fall back disks for SATA RAID arrays.

‘Hot spares’ are supported for RAID 1 or 0+1 arrays, allowing you to have a separate drive installed but unused and designated as a spare. If one of the disks in your RAID array fails, the disk controller will rebuild the array on the fly using the spare disk. To aid in swapping out defective drives, the SATA ports support hot-swapping. All this can be done transparently within the operating system itself.

To add to this comprehensive list of RAID features, the chipset supports RAID ‘morphing’ where one type of RAID array can be converted into another from the operating system. For example, you could convert a RAID 1 array to a RAID 0 stripe, upgrade a RAID 1 mirror to RAID 0+1 (provided two extra drives were attached).

All in all, the new nVidia NF4 chipset adds a huge amount of almost business-calibre RAID functionality to Athlon 64 systems. Although, we’re forced to wonder what users nVidia thinks will actually make use of all this RAID goodness.

This would be a good time to mention that the fourth (as yet) unreleased version of the nForce 4 chipset will apparently be a dual-Opteron based design, with 40 lanes of PCI Express and dual 16x video slots. It looks like we answered our own question, as the nForce 4 chipset is undoubtedly going to be targeted towards business users, and perhaps even servers a bit later in its active life. I doubt it will see much application in servers, industry is usually unwelcome to new and unproven technologies.

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Contents of Article: Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9
 Pg 1.  Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 nForce4 Ultra Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  Exploring the nForce 4 chipset
 Pg 3.  nForce 4 features and variants
 Pg 4.  — Improved disk controller and RAID support
 Pg 5.  Advancing Storage Features
 Pg 6.  Gigabit Ethernet built in
 Pg 7.  nForce 4 chipset variations
 Pg 8.  Feature comparisons
 Pg 9.  Overclocking and more
 Pg 10.  The BIOS
 Pg 11.  PCStats Test System and Sysmark 2004
 Pg 12.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, Winbench 99
 Pg 13.  Benchmarks: SiSoft Sandra 2004, Super Pi
 Pg 14.  Benchmarks: PCMark04, 3DMark2001
 Pg 15.  Benchmarks: 3DMark05, AquaMark3
 Pg 16.  Benchmarks: Comanche 4, X2: The Threat, UT2003
 Pg 17.  Benchmarks: UT2004, Doom 3
 Pg 18.  Maximum Motherboard Overclocks and Conclusion

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