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ZOTAC Readies Monster LGA1155 Motherboard

ZOTAC entered the motherboard scene as yet another vendor of reference NVIDIA nForce motherboards, which the like of EVGA, XFX, and BFG also sold. After the fall of nForce, ZOTAC attempted a LGA1366 motherboard, and went dormant with motherboards. Later, it picked up interest in the mini-ITX form-factor as it gained popularity in Asian markets like China and India, manufacturing motherboards based on Intel Atom, Atom with NVIDIA ION, and eventually socketed mini-ITX motherboards as it became a 2-chip affair with Intel's Ibex Peak platform (LGA1156). It looks like Zotac is making a comeback into full-size ATX motherboards that target the very top tier of the market, to woo gamers, professional overclockers, and enthusiasts.

Seen here is what the Chinese press is referring to as "ZT-Z68 Crown Edition-U1DU3", we may have lost the correct name in translation, but let's call it ZT-Z68-U1DU3 for now. It is a full-size ATX motherboard that takes socket LGA1155 Intel Sandy Bridge and future Ivy Bridge processors, and is based on the Intel Z68 Express chipset. It combines a strong VRM to support extreme overclocking, with graphics expansion, adding 4-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX capabilities using an NVIDIA BR-03 bridge-chip that sits on the processor's PCI-E x16 link, to give out two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 links, which are then spread between four slots in x16/NC/x16/NC, x16/NC/x8/x8, or x8/x8/x8/x8 lane configurations.

SLI on AMD Chipsets Confirmed, ASUS Crosshair V Box Pictured

It could be curtains down for NVIDIA nForce SLI chipset for AMD platform, as the GPU giant formally announced its intentions to license NVIDIA SLI technology for use on AMD chipset-based motherboards starting from AMD's upcoming 9-series chipset. Rumors about this development started trickling in around late March. NVIDIA's public release confirms most of what was outlined in the leaked company slide in the older article, that licenses will be only offered to 9-series (and later) chipset-based motherboards, and that only those motherboard manufacturers that are licensed by NVIDIA for SLI on their Intel platform motherboards will be given licenses. NVIDIA specifically mentions ASUS, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI as qualifying partners.

The more interesting part of the release, however, was the box-art of ASUS' upcoming high-end socket AM3+ motherboard, the Republic of Gamers (ROG) Crosshair V Formula. Its salad of product logos is what is most fascinating. For one, it confirms the product name and logo of AMD's new high-end desktop processors to be "FX", as revealed by the box designs. The next logo is of Phenom II, and as we know, AM3+ gives backwards compatibility to older AM3 processors. Next up is the AMD 9-series chipset logo, another Radeon-like logo by AMD. Next to it is the logo of the moment: NVIDIA SLI, and lastly ATI CrossFireX. There is a newer rectangular logo of "AMD CrossFire" that succeeds the ATI CrossFireX logo, but maybe ASUS, like many, found it too hideous. You can probably make a better one on MS Paint.

NVIDIA SLI on AMD Chipset Motherboards Soon

NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU technology is going through a rough patch on the AMD platform, with very few NVIDIA nForce 900 series motherboards available/sold. With AMD looking to come back strong in the performance CPU market (which might cause high-end gaming PC users to switch platforms), it is wise on the part of NVIDIA to make SLI available to AMD platform users in some form. NVIDIA is making a cautious move: licensing SLI to motherboard vendors in the same protocol in which it licenses them to provide NVIDIA SLI support on Intel 5-series and 6-series chipset based motherboards.

This move is particularly wise because NVIDIA wouldn't need to invest on making a chipset (though it can) for AMD's upcoming "Bulldozer" CPUs, and still get licensing fees for NVIDIA SLI. That way, it wouldn't have to rely on the platform's overall market success. NVIDIA will offer SLI licenses to motherboards based on AMD's upcoming 9-series chipset, particularly to models that lack integrated Radeon graphics (that's AMD 990FX, and AMD 990X). It will offer 2-way SLI licenses to motherboards running AMD 990X, and 3-way/2-way licenses to boards based on AMD 990FX. It won't offer nForce 200 bridge chips. Further, only those motherboard manufacturers that are currently tied up with NVIDIA for SLI licenses on Intel platform, will be granted SLI licenses on AMD platform.

ZOTAC Unleashes World’s First ION Upgrade Kits

ZOTAC International, the world's largest manufacturer graphics cards, mini-ITX motherboards and mini-PCs in the channel, today unveils the world's first ION Upgrade Kits featuring a ZOTAC small form factor motherboard and ZOTAC ION graphics card for a combination that delivers phenomenal value with premium graphics and outstanding user experience.

A ZOTAC ION graphics card with 16 unified shaders and 512MB of DDR3 memory empowers the ZOTAC ION Upgrade Kits with high-end features such as NVIDIA CUDA and PureVideo HD technologies, DirectX 10.1, DirectCompute, OpenGL and OpenCL compatibility for a high-performance and feature rich experience.

EVGA Dual LGA-1366 Motherboard Pictured

The recently surfaced high-end dual socket LGA-1366 motherboard is pictured in full, without its cooling assembly. The picture reveals quite a bit about EVGA's new monstrosity. To begin with, the motherboard is neither ATX, nor EATX in the truest sense. Like the recently announced X58 Classified 4-way SLI which was based on the "XL-ATX" form-factor, this motherboard seems to be 13.58 inches (344.93 mm) long, and about as wide as EATX (330 mm, 13 inches), or maybe a little more.

Each LGA-1366 socket is wired to six DDR3 DIMM slots for triple-channel memory, and is powered by an 8-phase digital-PWM circuit. Each socket further has a 3-phase power circuit for its DIMM slots. The CPU VRM for each socket takes input from an 8-pin ATX, and what appears to be a 6-pin +12V (PCI-E?) connector. The motherboard further takes power from a 6-pin PCI-E power connector apart from the usual 24-pin ATX power connector. Some of these inputs may be redundant and needed only for additional electrical stability to support competitive overclocking.

MSI and SteelSeries Announce Partnership for the Preorder of Big Bang-Trinergy

MSI, a leading high-performance mainboard and graphics card producer, today announced preorder details for its latest gaming mainboard, Big Bang-Trinergy. Starting now, those who pre-order Big Bang-Trinergy from participating retailers will get a limited 8-year warranty and exclusive Big Bang messenger bag. In addition, SteelSeries KINZU and QcK+ gaming gears will be offered to those who pre-order, cooperating with the world's famous gaming company, SteelSeries. Gamers will experience the ultimate gaming machine when heading into battle.

"Big Bang is the state-of-the-art gaming series from MSI through long-standing development. We feel more than pleased to partner with such a professional gaming company, SteelSeries to introduce it to gaming community" said Jason Lee, MSI's Mainboard and Graphics Card Marketing Director. "We believe our close collaboration will open the door of delivering high-quality gaming experience to users."

NVIDIA Shuns Lucid Hydra

A promising new technology from LucidLogix, the Hydra, has perhaps hit its biggest roadblock. The Hydra multi-GPU engine allows vendor-neutral and model-neutral GPU performance upscaling, without adhering to proprietary technologies such as NVIDIA SLI or ATI CrossfireX. NVIDIA, which is staring at a bleak future for its chipset division, is licensing the SLI technology to motherboard vendors who want to use it on socket LGA-1366 and LGA-1156 motherboards, since Intel is the only chipset vendor. On other sockets such as LGA-775 and AM3, however, NVIDIA continues to have chipsets that bring with them the incentive of SLI technology support. NVIDIA's licensing deals with motherboard vendors are particularly noteworthy. For socket LGA-1366 motherboards that are based on Intel's X58 Express chipset, NVIDIA charges a fee of US $5 per unit sold, to let it support SLI. Alternatively, motherboard vendors can opt for NVIDIA's nForce 200 bridge chip, which allows vendors to offer full-bandwidth 3-way SLI on some high-end models. For the socket LGA-1156 platform currently driven by Intel's P55 Express chipset, the fee is lower, at US $3 per unit sold.

The Lucid Hydra engine by design is vendor-neutral. It provides a sort of abstraction-layer between the OS and the GPUs, and uses the available graphics processing resources to upscale resulting performance. This effectively kills NVIDIA's cut, as motherboard vendors needn't have the SLI license, and that users of Hydra won't be using SLI or Crossfire anymore. Perhaps fearing a loss of revenue, NVIDIA is working on its drivers to ensure that its GeForce GPUs don't work on platforms that use Hydra. Perhaps this also ensures "quality control, and compatibility", since if the customer isn't satisfied with the quality and performance of Hydra, NVIDIA for one, could end up in the bad books. This could then also kick up warranty issues, and product returns.

EVGA Announces GeForce GTX 275 Co-op Graphics Accelerator

EVGA's Halloween offering, the mystical graphics accelerator with two different GPUs - each handing one kind of task - is official. Behold the EVGA GTX 275 Co-op PhysX accelerator. This unique graphics accelerator uses an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 275 GPU to handle the primary task of graphics processing, while offloads GPGPU related tasks, such as game physics acceleration using the company's PhysX technology, to a second GeForce GTS 250 GPU. While the GTX 275 component has 896 MB of GDDR3 memory across its usual 448-bit wide interface, the GTS 250 has 512 MB of it across its 256-bit wide interface, 1280 MB total on board (though not the total amount of memory available to a 3D application).

While not intended to be a true dual-GPU accelerator in essence that the two GPUs work in tandem to render graphics, the design ensures that the GeForce GTX 275 works with zero overhead from processing PhysX. The two GPUs are not part of an SLI multi-GPU array. With the provision of two SLI fingers, users can pair up to three of these in a 3-way SLI array. It is logically possible to pair this with other normal GeForce GTX 275 accelerators as well.

MSI Unveils Big Bang Trinergy P55

MSI, a leading high-performance mainboard company, unveil its first gaming series mainboards in Intel P55 platform featuring awe-inspiring graphics and audio functionality to offer serious gamers immersive gaming experience.

The state-of-the-art gaming line is inspired by the mighty Big Bang. Unique and innovative, the all-new Big Bang series will deliver the shock and awe of unprecedented experiences and expand into its own collection of galaxies.

The first Big Bang branded mainboard, Trinergy is designed with eye-catching features such as NVIDIA SLI technology and QuantumWave audio processing with the latest THX TruStudio PC and Creative EAX ADVANCED HD 5.0 plus exclusive performance boost design from MSI.

NVIDIA Halts Development of Core i5 & Core i7 Chipsets

There was a time when for the Intel platform, you could choose between motherboards based on chipsets from four or more vendors. With the weakening and discontinuation of chipset development for the Intel platform from the likes of VIA, and SiS, and NVIDIA facing a technical and legal blockade with further development of Intel chipsets with the latest Intel processors having integrated memory controllers and the Quickpath Interconnect system interface, consumer choice is reduced to platform core logic coming only from Intel, while motherboard vendors are able to use additives such as the NVIDIA nForce 200 PCI-Express bridge chip, or even the latest LucidLogix Hydra controller, among additional SATA, SAS and Ethernet controllers, to enhance the motherboards' feature-set beyond what the chipset can provide.

Following NVIDIA making the right noises about the future of its chipset division and development of chipsets that drive Socket LGA-1156 processors, it is becoming increasingly clear that its development has hit a possible legal or technical hurdle. Until those issues are ironed out completely, NVIDIA will not invest in further development of that chipset. In a statement, NVIDIA expressed its official position of its chipset division, and where things stand specific to the products it makes. Speaking of which, NVIDIA's chipset division currently sells chipsets for Intel's FSB-driven processors, AMD's latest processors, and the ION platform, which forms the foundation of a more capable ULPC platform based on the Intel Atom processor.

EVGA's P55 Motherboard Lineup Detailed

Although not as old as someone like ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, or DFI, in the motherboards scene, EVGA's recent motherboards have shown the company has very quickly matured and can look other companies in the eye, when it comes to enthusiast-grade motherboards for DIY system builders. Recently, the EVGA P55 FTW aka 132-LF-E657 earned some media coverage. The rest of the lineup, top to bottom, includes: P55 Classified 200, P55 FTW 200 (141-LF-E658-KR), P55 SLI (132-LF-E655-KR), P55 LE (123-LF-E653-KR), and the P55 Micro (121-LF-E652-KR).

The P55 Classified 200, and P55 FTW 200 carry nForce 200 bridge chips that make 3-way SLI possible, and faster. While not much is known about the Classified, it intends to roof the lineup with every enthusiast-grade feature available. One of the distinct features include a "Show Volt" panel, that eliminates the need for a multi-meter to physically read voltages. An LED display on the NE corner of the board displays voltages, as the probes connect to various voltage readout points. The P55 FTW 200 features four PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots in all, to support 3-way SLI. It electrical lane arrangement is detailed in the slide below. Like the Classified 200 and P55 FTW, this one supports the EVbot (discussed later).

nForce Lives: NVIDIA Plans LGA-1156 Chipset

NVIDIA enjoys its share of the pie with the existing socket LGA-775 platform, with a broad range of performance nForce, and value-oriented GeForce MGPU chipsets. With Intel's implementation of the FSB-replacement QuickPath Interconnect system interface with LGA-1366, a conflict ensued with regards to Intel licensing NVIDIA making chipset. Intel's contention stood that its older licenses did not cover the latest processors that implement integrated memory controllers and QPI. As a result, NVIDIA was forced to license its SLI technology to motherboard manufacturers for products based on Intel X58 chipset, and now Intel P55 chipset for the LGA-1156 series processor, and the future of NVIDIA Intel-series chipsets looked bleak at worst.

Fresh reports suggest that NVIDIA indeed has a chipset product lineup planned for Q1 2010, that supports socket LGA-1156 processors, codenamed MCP99. In addition to this, NVIDIA will also serve up two new LGA-775 chipsets, codenamed MCP85 and MCP89. What's common to all these chipsets is that they embed an integrated graphics processor (IGP). Some of these chipsets feature a 64-bit wide memory channel dedicated to the IGP's memory needs, apart from the 128-bit wide (dual-channel) system memory controller, on the LGA-775 platform. The dedicated memory channel allows the IGP to match entry-level graphics cards in terms of performance, without eating into the system memory. We predict this will be implemented in the same way AMD 780G, 785G and 790GX does, with dedicated memory chips present onboard. The LGA-775 compatible ones will further feature dual-channel DDR3-1333 standard supportive memory controllers for system memory. The MGPU will be named inside the GeForce 200M series.

SLI Hacked on Older Intel Chipsets

NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology served as the biggest selling point of nForce series chipsets, as it was exclusive to it. With the advent of LGA-1366 processors and the Intel X58 chipset, NVIDIA allowed the Intel chipset to support the technology, as it soon became clear that it isn't going to be easy for NVIDIA to come up with an LGA-1366 chipset. Users of the older LGA-775 however still have the option of buying nForce 700 series based motherboards to use SLI, and hence no real attempt was made to ensure the technology is available to Intel chipsets. Until now.

A member of Expreview's Chinese enthusiast community has successfully enabled SLI on an Intel chipset based LGA-775 motherboard, the first feat of its kind since much older attempts on i975 platforms using much older GeForce hardware. Firewings_[CCG] successfully ran SLI of GeForce 8600 GT and GeForce GTX 260 cards on his Intel X38+ICH9R chipset based ASUS Maximus Formula motherboard. The feat is headed by software he modified, details of which will surface soon. The mod was validated by Expreview staff, who used the software to run GeForce GTX 260 SLI on a more recent P45+ICH10R based Maximus II Formula motherboard. "By installing the software that Firewings [CCG] provides us, we managed to enable SLI configuration in Directory Services Restore Mode. Due to some 'small problems' according to Firewings [CCG], the SLI configuration can't be realized in normal mode for now, but he says this will be fixed soon," commented Expreview. With SLI enabled, the multi-GPU setup was able offer performance scaling that proves the mod works.

MSI P55-GD80 Pictured

MSI's lineup of LGA-1156 motherboards has a new high-end entry in the making, apart from a seeming higher-end G9P55-DC which was recently pictured. The P55-GD80 fills the lineup, perhaps a notch below it, and the other MSI LGA-1156 motherboards that lack an NVIDIA nForce 200 chip and 3-way SLI support. The P55-GD80 was pictured in all its glory (read: release grade chipset cooling), sourced by SAV-Computer. The picture reveals a PCB layout very similar to the G9P55-DC, with differences in the CPU power circuit, overclocker-friendly features, and the storage connectivity.

The board uses a 10-phase CPU power circuit with standard solid-state capacitors, compared to the 11-phase circuit with flat-bed ML capacitors on the G9P55-DC. This board surprisingly has more overclocker-friendly features, such as on-board controls for clock-speeds, clear-CMOS, OC-Genie, a DIP switch to control voltages, and voltage-sensing points that make measuring voltages convenient. Apart from the Intel P55 PCH, it uses an NVIDIA nForce 200 bridge chip that broadcasts 16 PCI-Express lanes (from the processor root complex) to 32 lanes on the PCI-E x16 slots. Apart from the six SATA II ports the PCH provides, an additional controller provides two internal and one external SATA ports, and one IDE connector. Two gigabit Ethernet connections, 8-channel audio, Firewire, and around 13 USB ports make for the rest of the package. The board supports Intel Lynnfield and Clarkdale processors.

EVGA Releases X58 SLI LE Motherboard

EVGA expanded its motherboard lineup with the LGA-1366 based X58 SLI LE (141-BL-E757-TR). This ATX motherboard supports the most common standards of EVGA motherboards in the sub-series, at a price-point lower than that of its 3X-SLI series. It is priced at US $239. Making use of only the X58+ICH10R chipset, with no companion nForce 200 chips, the board goes on to feature four PCI-Express x16 slots, for NVIDIA 3-way SLI, or ATI CrossFireX. A 8-channel audio, and one gigabit Ethernet connection make for the rest of the signficant feature set. Popular retailer has already started listing it.

ASUS Designs Own Monster Dual-GTX 285 4 GB Graphics Card

ASUS has just designed a new monster graphics card that breaks the mold for reference design GeForce GTX 295, called the ASUS MARS 295 Limited Edition. The card, although retains the name "GeForce GTX 295", same device ID, and is compatible with existing NVIDIA drivers, has two huge innovations put in by ASUS, which go far beyond being yet another overclocked GeForce GTX 295: the company used two G200-350-B3 graphics processors, the same ones that make the GeForce GTX 285. The GPUs have all the 240 shader processors enabled, and also have the complete 512-bit GDDR3 memory interface enabled. This dual-PCB monstrosity holds 32 memory chips, and 4 GB of total memory (each GPU accesses 2 GB of it). Apart from these, each GPU system uses the same exact clock speeds as the GeForce GTX 285: 648/1476/2400 MHz (core/shader/memory).

NVIDIA Releases WHQL-Certified nForce Drivers for Windows 7

Since Microsoft kicked off its WHQL certification program for Windows 7, hardware vendors such as NVIDIA have taken serious initiatives to release new drivers that are certified to run with the new OS. Less than a week after releasing GeForce 185.85 WHQL drivers for Windows 7, NVIDIA today made nForce WHQL drivers official. NVIDIA uses a unified driver for its nForce series motherboard chipsets, which are of two main classes: for chipsets with integrated GeForce graphics, and for chipsets without integrated graphics. nForce WHQL 15.35 supports nForce chipsets for both AMD and Intel platforms without integrated graphics, while nForce WHQL 15.37 deals with support for nForce chipsets for both platforms with integrated graphics. Refer to the "supported products" tab at NVIDIA's driver page for more information. The driver package provides drivers for the Ethernet controller(s), SATA/IDE controller, RAID/AHCI controller, SMU, the IGP (depending on the driver you choose, and if an IGP is present), and provides Network Management Tools along with RAIDTool. You need to install the appropriate driver irrespective of your chipset featuring an IGP that has been disabled.


ASUS P6T7 SuperComputer Packs Two nForce 200 Chips, Graphics Expansion Galore

There is a new X58 "SuperComputer" motherboard, this time not from ASRock, but from ASUS. The company is ready with a new LGA-1366 single-socket workstation motherboard that concentrates quite heavily on its PCI-Express expansion slots. THe motherboard packs seven full-length PCI-Express slots. To support these, ASUS used a clever design: two 16-lane PCI-Express channels from the X58 northbridge provide connectivity to an NVIDIA nForce 200 (BR-03) chip each. Each of these chips in turn broadcast the connection to two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots (blue slots). The blue slots with a neighbouring black slot further have PCI-E switching logic that can divert 8 lanes to the black PCI-E x16 slots, when populated. As a result, it has seven slots worked out in all. The board supports ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI.

A large heatsink cools the lower cluster of chips that include the board's ICH10R southbridge, and the two nForce 200 chips. Heatpipes distribute heat to an elaborate array of heatsinks over the northbridge and the board's VRM areas. The board features six DDR3 memory slots for supporting up to 24 GB of memory. Storage is care of the southbridge and an additional controller to provide extra internal SATA ports along with the eSATA connectivity. 8-channel audio, and two gigabit Ethernet controllers, and an ASUS-exclusive system diagnostics card make for the rest of the equation. The P6T7 SuperComputer is yet to hit stores.

MSI P55 Motherboard Pictured

MSI will be one of the first motherboard manufacturers to design one based on Intel's upcoming P55 chipset, supporting Intel's upcoming Core i5 series processors, using the LGA-1156 socket design. Boy, is this one interesting board. Pictured by Hardware-Aktuell, the MSI G9P55-DC picture shows perhaps the first picture of a fully-assembled LGA-1156 socket, with its complete retention mechanism in place.

The CPU is fuelled by two independent 6-phase power circuits. Four DDR3 DIMM slots support dual-channel memory. Storage comes in the form of six SATA II ports routed to the P55 chip, with four (blue) SATA II ports and an IDE connector courtesy of an additional controller. The board features two PCI slots, a PCI-E x1 slot to hold a "hardware" sound card (part of the package), an open-ended PCI-E x4 slot and three PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots. In case you're wondering how the 16 PCI-E lanes the CPU ends up sparing for graphics ends up into a 3-Way SLI supportive solution, take a look at what would trick you for a southbridge. That, infact is the NVIDIA BR-03 chip. It can provide two PCI-E x16 links, or PCI-E x16, x8, x8 connections to the three slots, much like in the nForce 780a SLI solutions for the AMD platform. Let the puny chipset heatsinks not fool you either. This board is pre-production and its release-grade version will feature an MSI-made cooling solution that cools the chipset and the rather crowded VRM area. We will learn more about this board as CeBIT progresses.

Intel Sues NVIDIA Over Chipset License, NVIDIA Responds

In a surprising move by Intel, the silicon giant filed a lawsuit against NVIDIA corporation at the Court of Chancery in the State of Delaware, over the chipset licensing agreement between the two companies, that allows NVIDIA to make core-logic (chipset) for Intel microprocessors. Intel's contention states that the licensing agreement signed between the two companies about four years ago, that allowed NVIDIA to make nForce series chipset supporting Intel processors, does not cover the the privileges required by NVIDIA to prepare chipsets for Intel's new generation of processors that feature integrated memory controllers.

As of now, NVIDIA does not stand at the receiving end of any legal action, since the company has no chipset products either released, or in production, that supports Intel's Core i7 series processors. The legal-spat in the making, between the two companies, may however affect NVIDIA's possible plans to develop chipset products for Intel's new 45 nm and 32 nm processors. NVIDIA on its part, defends its position, dismissing Intel's claims. Jen-Hsun Huang, NVIDIA's president and CEO maintained that the license agreement negotiated earlier would still apply, though he did not miss the opportunity to affirm his beliefs that the focus on CPU being the soul (if not the heart) of the PC, is slowly yet surely shifting towards the GPU. "This is clearly an attempt to stifle innovation to protect a decaying CPU business" he said. According to the NVIDIA CEO, it is obvious that Intel fears the competition NVIDIA poses with its platform core-logic innovations, that it had to file the complaint. This spat between the two major computer hardware companies could get uglier in the days to come. The press-release from NVIDIA in response to Intel's charges follows:

NVIDIA Preparing nForce 980a SLI, Identical to Predecessor

NVIDIA is planning a new high-end desktop chipset for the AMD processor platform: the nForce 980a SLI. The news validates some of the earliest roadmap slides of ASUS leaked to the media, showing a certain M4N82 Deluxe to feature the said chipset according to the specifications sheet. The chipset is built to feature on newer motherboards supporting the AM3 socket and DDR3 memory, though the one from ASUS supports DDR2 memory only, with no mention of a DDR3-supportive motherboard from the company.

VR-Zone juiced some more information about this new chipset, which suggests that the nForce 980a could be merely a re-branded nForce 780a SLI. Earlier reports also suggested the possibility of the 780a SLI successor to support the Advanced Clock Calibration (ACC) feature that enhances overclocking the CPU using AMD's Overdrive software. With the 980a, NVIDIA will replace the markings on the package from "NF780A-SLI-N-A2" to "NF980A-SLI-A2". The company has also reportedly issued a notice to its partners:
The NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI SPP is an enthusiast-class high performance interface to AMD AM3 CPUs. It is RoHS-compliant. It includes 2×16 PCI Express 2.0 lanes (also configurable as 1 x16, 2 x8) and 3×1 PCI Express 1.0 lanes, 12 USB ports, six SATA ports, and single GigE. To ensure timely availability and flexibility, we encourage customers to qualify and release products using the NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI SPP.
The chipset will be available to motherboard manufacturers starting from March.

ASRock nForce 3 Motherboard Supports Phenom II

With the AMD K8 architecture, AMD had made it very simple for CPUs and motherboards to get along. Memory support being purely subjective to the memory controller on the CPU, the only thing the motherboard chipset was left to do was to connect the rest of the system to the CPU using the HyperTransport interface. With the introduction of the DDR2 supportive AM2 socket that was mostly pin-compatible with socket 939, motherboard vendors took to cost-cutting using older s939 and s754-"supportive" chipsets such as the NVIDIA nForce 3. ASRock is one of them. The company used the nForce 3 in the AM2NF3-VSTA motherboard.

Having bought that motherboard in its time, might just pay off now, with the company including it in its latest socket AM3 CPU compatibility list. The motherboard might go on to support the latest Phenom II X4, X3 series; Athlon X4, X3 series, and other processors in AMD's 45nm desktop CPU lineup. That will also add to the reputation of the NVIDIA nForce 3 chipset being the only platform core-logic to span across three generations of CPU sockets: socket 754, socket 939, and socket AM2. And supporting AMD processors from three generations of sockets: AM2, AM2+ and AM3. This is what AMD originally conceived when designing its socket model. Unfortunately, vested commercial interests and "sandbagging" have plagued many a motherboard manufacturer who continue to discriminate CPU support within the AM2/3 socket series, to create new product lines, and to keep their sales up.

BIOSTAR Announces AM3 CPU Compatible Motherboard List

BIOSTAR has released a partial list of its existing motherboards that will support the upcoming 45nm desktop processors by AMD. The list includes all of its current motherboards based on the AMD 7-series chipsets, NVIDIA nForce 700a series and GeForce 8200 MCP. BIOSTAR has made available the appropriate BIOS firmware for each of the motherboards in the list, that expands the CPU support. Interestingly, BIOSTAR comments on the TDP rating system AMD is about to adopt. It says that 45nm AM2+ processors carry TDP ratings of 125W, while equivalent (drawn from inference) AM3 45nm CPUs carry 95W ratings. Visit this page for links to the BIOS updates and other details.

MSI Releases its List of AM3 CPU-compatible Motherboards

MSI released its partial list of motherboards that will support 45nm AM3-socket processors by AMD. The list includes all its AM2+ motherboards based on AMD 7-series and NVIDIA nForce 700a series chipsets. As of now, MSI released beta versions of the BIOS that expands its CPU support base, but it is expected that the company comes out with release-grade BIOS soon. The list, unlike ASUS' list, doesn't leave out any of its flagship motherboards.

Press Release follows:

Leading Motherboard Manufacturers Turn to NVIDIA SLI for new Intel Bloomfield

NVIDIA Corporation today announced that the world's preeminent motherboard manufacturers, ASUS, EVGA, MSI, Gigabyte, and DFI, have all licensed NVIDIA SLI technology for their new lineup of motherboards designed to work with Intel Bloomfield CPUs and X58 chipsets. The addition of SLI to these motherboards and adoption by major OEMs including Dell and others means consumers will be able to harness the power of award-winning GeForce GPUs in single, SLI, or 3-way SLI configurations for the fastest visual computing experience on upcoming Intel Bloomfield platforms.

"Dell Gaming is known for industry-leading graphics and unparalleled performance," said Patrick Cooper, Director of Product Planning for Dell Gaming. "With the marriage of NVIDIA SLI and the latest generation of Intel chipsets, we will continue to offer hardcore gamers the opportunity to push their Alienware systems beyond the limits of today's hottest titles."
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