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MSI Readying nForce 980a SLI AM3 Motherboard

MSI is ready with yet another motherboard for the AMD platform. This time, the company used NVIDIA's creme de la creme nForce 980a SLI chipset in its first socket AM3 implementation. The MSI NF980-G65 brings 3-way SLI to the socket AM3 crowd. The release trails ASUS by months, which introduced a AM2+ (DDR2) motherboard based on the chipset. While the actual picture is too small and blurry, the layout drawing is legible.

The NF980-G65 supports the entire range of socket AM3 processors, including future chips with 140W TDP. DDR3-2133 MHz memory is supported by overclocking. The layout uses 7 expansion slots, including three PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots (that arrange as x16, x16, NC, or x16, x8, x8) depending on the population of PCI-E x16 graphics cards. Between these are two PCI-E x1, and two PCI slots. nForce 980a SLI packs a GeForce 8300 class IGP, which supports GeForce Boost with supported low-end discrete graphics cards. Its display output is handled by DVI-D, D-Sub, and HDMI connectors on board. All the chipset's six SATA II ports are provided internally. Audio is care of a high-grade Realtek ALC889 CODEC, gigabit Ethernet, and FireWire make for the rest of the connectivity. Pricing and availability are not known at this point, though we expect this one to sell for under US $200.

Phenom II X4 955 Inches Toward April 20 Launch

AMD is attempting to set its record straight with the Phenom II series of 45 nm desktop processors. The company had started off its Dragon desktop platform with the introduction of its flagship CPU, the Phenom II X4 940. This processor however, is not compliant with the AM3 socket, and will not support DDR3 memory, unless an AM3 socket motherboard can provide DDR2 memory support. Come April 20, and AMD will have released its newest processor: Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition. Based on the 45 nm Deneb core, this processor supports AM3 socket motherboards, and DDR3 memory. It features a core clock speed of 3.20 GHz (16.0 x 200 MHz), 512 KB of L2 cache per core, and 6 MB of L3 cache. It is overclocker-friendly thanks to its unlocked bus multiplier, and the "massive headroom" AMD has been brandishing lately.

One of our sources from Hong Kong was able to make an early-purchase this processor in its retail "processor in a box" (PIB) package (marked with the OPN HDZ955FBGIBOX), from the Golden Computer Parts Center, who took a few snaps of the package. It could be bought for around HKD 2170 (US $280).

NVIDIA nForce 980a SLI Reference Platform Motherboard Pictured

Pursuing legal action against Intel for bringing its Intel-compatible platform development to a grinding halt due to legal complications, NVIDIA has kept its platform development for AMD on track. The company has made the nForce 980a SLI platform official, that supports the latest Phenom II series processors from AMD. The company published the product page on its website, and has pictured its reference design motherboard based on the chipset. The motherboard carries the "designed by NVIDIA" marking, which makes it a design that several of its AIC partners such as EVGA, XFX, Zotac, etc., can use simultaneously.

The motherboard sports the nForce 980a SLI chipset, paired with the nForce 200 PCI-Express bridge chip. The motherboard features a GeForce 8300-class IGP, with DVI-D and D-Sub outputs. It supports NVIDIA 3-way SLI and Quad-SLI. As an AMD platform, the chipset supports AM2, AM2+ and AM3 socket processors, with DDR3 and DDR2 memory support (depending on the processor). A 5-phase digital PWM circuit powers the processor. The nForce 980a SLI and nForce 200 chips are located adjacent to each other, and are cooled actively by a fan-heatsink. The product design looks production-grade and may attract partners to sell it.

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.
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