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Review: NVIDIA nForce2

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 1 October 2002, 00:00

Tags: NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA)

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Introduction




A lot of people claimed that this chipset was late, but NVIDIA could not state why they would not launch until now. Announced on July 16th, three and a half months ago, we expected it to hit us so did many readers - (ed. hopefully we will not get emails from them asking for it anymore.) NVIDIA waited for the offical launch of the NFORCE2 solution until AMD had there 333 Bus solution ready, for whatever reasons it has been waiting until now. Partners have been working with NVIDIA for many months and readying their solutions even using older silicon to what we have here now. There is little point in releasing a chipset which supports 333 bus CPUs without any CPUs on the market.

But better late than never and maybe NVIDIA had good reason. We'll take a look at those reasons (probably pure speculation) and a look at the chipset itself in this article.

Original nForce was an ambitious outing for the worlds largest graphics chip manufacturer. With technologies such as the DASP (Dynamic Adaptive Speculative Preprocessor), TwinBank (a dual channel DDR memory controller) and the HyperTransport bus link, it was a tech heavy chipset that had plenty of performance and good features. The southbridge or MCP (media and communications processor) was, and maybe still is until today, the best AMD southbridge. With a world class audio solution in the APU that did a lot of nifty stuff in hardware such as Dolby Digital and up to date features like Ethernet, the original nForce chipsets were excellent.

nForce 420 (integrated graphics core) and 415 (no core) were popular with board makers and some decent boards arrived and did well. The chipset had issues however. I could never make it overclock. That's not to say some couldn't, but nForce based boards that did some decent front side bus overclocking were few and far between and that sort of killed it in the eyes of the enthusiast. Many niche users loved the chipset however and it was a success overall. Enough of a success for NVIDIA to comtemplate a successor.

So here we have it, nForce2 (or CRUSH18) in a couple of variants (615 and 620), updated and tweaked and ready for release.

Lets take a look at what's new, what's not and cast a judgemental eye over the whole shooting match to see if NVIDIA have got it right again, maybe even more right than before.

Onto the official spec.