Asus A7N266-C in the test: The nForce 415-D now also without graphics

Asus A7N266-C in the test: The nForce 415-D now also without graphics


Long known under the code name' Crush ', the nForce chipset family moved out at the end of 2001 in order to let nVidia gain a foothold on the mainboard market. While the first two variants, nForce 420 and nForce 220, offered an integrated GeForce2 MX in addition to Dolby Digital Sound, nVidia has dispensed with the nForce 415-D version now available to us for cost reasons and market strategy. In particular, owners of a fast graphics card should make the purchase palatable. We would like to take this opportunity to thank the company Asus , who exclusively provided us with their brand new A7N266-C. What is the nForce and what are the features and performance of the Asus board like? You will find an answer to all of these questions in our review.

The chipset in detail

Strictly speaking, the term 'nForce' is to be seen as a generic term for an entire chipset series for AMD's socket A the nVidia certainly for good reason with the title of currentlyvery popular GeForce graphics cards. Like almost all PC chipsets, the nForce is also divided into a north and south bridge - the only exception here is currently SiS. While nVidia previously called the Northbridge the 'Integrated Graphics Processor (IGP)', the Southbridge is called the 'Media and Communications Processor (MCP)'. Since the northbridge of the nForce 415-D could no longer be called 'IGP', the new name 'System Platform Processor (SPP)' was created for this. Before we jump into our test board, the A7N266-C, we first want to explain the most basic properties and differences between the chipset variants.

IGP, SPP? nVidia has currently brought three versions of the nForce to market readiness and the difference between the chipsets lies in the northbridge used. While the nForce 420 with IGP-128 and the nForce 415-D with SPP have the 'TwinBank Memory Architecture' feature, the IGP-64 of the nForce 220 has to do without this feature for cost reasons. But what is this memory architecture about?

The TwinBank Memory Architecture: Regardless of whether SD or DDRRAM. Whether 100MHz or 133MHz memory clock. So far, the bandwidth of the memory bus was limited to 64 bits. The IGP-128/SPP is the world's first mainboard northbridge for AMD systems with a second 64-bit strong and completely independent memory controller that enables 128-bit operation. Theoretically, the maximum data throughput can be increased from 2.1GB/s to 4.2GB/s. However, as is so often the case, practice has some limitations. Since the current memory modules are still 64-bit copies, the feature can only be used with dual operation of two or three modules. However, contrary to reports to the contrary, there is no need to rely on two or three identical moduleswill. Both the manufacturer and the size of the memory bar may vary. According to nVidia, an optimal yield and stability can only be achieved with the same products. At first glance, it seems surprising that 'dual' operation also works with three RAM modules. However, since one of the memory controllers controls the first slot (bank 1 and 2) and the second controller controls both the second (bank 3 and 4) and the third slot (bank 5 and 6), a 'dual 'Operation (referring to the controller and not the RAM) can be guaranteed. A real damper for the TwinBank architecture is currently still based on the functionality of the current CPUs. If the Athlon, Athlon XP and Duron processors with an FSB of 100 or 133 only have the option of sending a maximum of 1600MB/s or 2100MB/s via the conductor tracks, the potential remains largely unused. Apparently only the remaining system components such as AGP, PCI or EIDE bus and, as will be shown, the on-board graphics can really benefit.

Nvidia nForce

In addition to this quite revolutionary development, there seems to be a second one Feature of IGP Northbridges tends to be mandatory. Especially when you look at the name of the manufacturer, nVidia, again. The nForce 420 and 220 have an integrated GPU based on the core of the GeForce2 MX. The SPP of the nForce 415-D is therefore left out in the next point.

On the next page: Graphics included