TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Nvidia Corp. Monday rolled out its newest graphics chipset at the Computex trade show here, as five of Taiwan's largest motherboard makers said they will begin offering the device in AMD Athlon 4 PC motherboards.
The nForce graphics chipset with integrated media communications processor and embedded memory is said to deliver 4.2Gbyte/s throughput and what Nvidia claimed is the fastest I/O south bridge in the industry. Jeff Fisher, vice president of worldwide sales for the Santa Clara, Calif., company, said nForce chips will be available in production this summer and desktop motherboards with the chipset and GeForce 2 graphics card will ship in the fall.
To date, motherboard makers Abit, ASUStek, Gigabyte, Mitac, and MSI said they will build motherboards with the new nForce chipset. Fujitsu Siemens Computers was the first PC OEM planning to use the device.
The nForce chipset uses three fixed and two programmable DSP cores and includes the same media communications processor I/O in the south bridge that Nvidia will supply to Microsoft Corp.'s upcoming X-Box game console, according to Michael Lim, Nvidia's senior product marketing manager.
Fisher said a mobile version of nForce will be introduced next year. "The mobile version needs LVDS (low-voltage differential signaling) and power management features," he said. "We have reconfigured the GeForce 2 external graphics card for mobile platforms. It just takes a little longer to configure all the many parts of the integrated nForce chipset for mobile use."
Nvida will release pricing data once the nForce enters volume production. "It will be priced less than a traditional chipset and external GeForce 2 graphics card" which the new chipset combines, Fisher predicted.
Fisher also confirmed EBN reports that the nForce family includes a dual-channel version called the nForce 420D. The device uses double-data-rate memory with a 128-bit bus to offer a 4.2G/s data rate and is targeted at the power user and performance PC markets. A dual-channel DDR version with a 64-bit bus is also available for the mainstream market.
Chris Hsieh, an analyst with ING Baring Inc., Taipei, said the Nivida architecture is revolutionary and will be watched closely to see how quickly PC OEMs pick it up. He said nForce also holds promise in the notebook market, once Nvidia comes out with its mobile version.
With Advanced Micro Devices Inc. supporting the chipset, observers said they will also be watching to see if Intel Corp. takes an nForce license for its Pentium 4 motherboards. Fisher said there were no technical issues preventing such an agreement.
Fisher said Nvidia has no intention of competing with Via Technologies or Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) in the value chipset market. As to industry reports that Via was planning to file a chipset patent infringement suit against Nvidia, he said, "no one has contacted us yet on our nForce technology. We also have cross licensing agreements with S3 , one of Via's partners on integrated graphics chipsets."