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Digital-Daily : Motherboard Reviews : gigabyte_780sli_ds5

Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5 на NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI

Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5 на NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI
Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 18.01.2008

Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5
Chipset NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI
CPU LGA775 Pentium 4 FSB 1066/800/533 MHz
Celeron Conroe/Prescott FSB 800/533 MHz
Dual-Core Pentium4 Smithfield/Presler
Yorkfield, Wolfdale FSB 1333/1066/800 MHz
Quad-Core Kentsfield, Dual-Core Conroe/Allendale
HyperThreading
Memory DDR2 400/533/667/800
HDD 1x UltraDMA/133(RAID)
8x SerialATA II (2xRAID)
Extras High Definition Audio
10 USB 2.0
2x Gigabit Ethernet LAN
3? IEEE-1394a
Price: n.a.

The release of Intel X38 has dramatically overturned the market of top-end motherboards. This product used to be the only one to offer support for the PCI Express v2.0, and the number of lanes was sufficient enough to arrange two full-featured PCI Express x16 slots. Although the expansion options of X38 are restricted by the functionality of the ICH9(R) bridge, this product is in demand on the market since it offers support for new processors manufactured following the 45-nm process technology.

Moreover, Intel is speeding up this direction and preparing a new version - X48 for release, which implements support for the 400 MHz (1600 MHz QPB) bus. How will NVIDIA respond to the activities of Intel, its competitor? By and large, NVIDIA could do nothing at all: its top-end nForce 680i SLI chipset offers similar expansion options, and in terms of support for the PCI Express bus it offer a "conditional" superiority. We call it "conditional" because 680i SLI supports greater number of lanes and allows arranging three PCI Express x16 slots following the 16+16+8 formula. Certainly, 680i SLI does not support PCI Express v2.0 specifications, but currently this technology does not bring any performance gain. Nevertheless, support for the PCI Express v2.0 is a powerful marketing plus, and NVIDIA should have somehow responded to that.

There are two more important points to note. Despite that Intel X38/X48 and nForce 680i SLI are both aimed at LGA775 processors, motherboards based on these chipsets are not competitors. The thing is that all the advantages of X38/X48 are revealed in only high-end systems which use two AMD video cards set to the Crossfire mode. The same situation is with nForce 680i SLI: a motherboard based on this chipset reveals its capabilities only if the SLI technology is used. The second important point is related to support for new 45-nm Yorkfield and Wolfdale processors. That is the major pain in the neck for NVIDIA: boards of the reference design had very serious issues operating these processors. And the chipset nForce 680i SLI itself is not to blame for that: the manufacturers who produced motherboards of their in-house PCB design did not come across these issues. Certainly, NVIDIA released patch to the BIOS, but that looks a half-measure because it cuts the performance down.

After all, NVIDIA weighed all the pros and cons and released a new generation of nForce 7xx chipsets, which includes the two products: nForce 780i SLI and nForce 750i SLI. As the names suggest, they are aimed to replace nForce 680i SLI and nForce 650i SLI. Of the two novelties, we are more interested in nForce 780i SLI since we acquired one of the first boards built on this chipset - the Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5.

Let's examine the nForce 780i SLI in more detail. On paper, all the above issues with nForce 680i SLI have been solved. In particular, motherboards of the reference design built on nForce 780i SLI will support 45-nm Yorkfield and Wolfdale processors (but for now only the 1333 MHz bus). The second improvement - nForce 780i SLI supports the PCI Express v2.0 bus, while the total number of bus lanes has gone up to 62 (!), of which 32 lanes conform to the v2.0 specifications. Such functionality was implemented in the following way: engineers at NVIDIA have added an additional chip - nForce 200 which provides support for 32 PCI Express v2.0 bus lanes. Schematically, this looks like that:

nForce 780i SLI

Therefore, engineers at NVIDIA have simply renamed 680i SLI SPP and 680i SLI MCP to 780i SLI SPP and 780i SLI MCP and, quite probably, the new chips offer a "higher" in which some minor improvements and fixes have been made, with some minor shortcomings eliminated. If our version proves right, this technical solution has the following substantial shortcoming: the 32 PCI-E v2.0 bus lanes from the nForce 200 bridge are linked to 16 PCI-E v1.0 lanes which were originally implemented in 680i SLI SPP. Therefore, we get the so-called "bottleneck" which in theory degrades the performance of PCI Express x16 v2.0 video cards. However, in practice the user may not notice this issue because the bandwidth of PCI-E v2.0 is not yet in demand and still won't be in demand for quite a long time. We are even confident that the performance of Triple-SLI will be about the same on 680i SLI and 780i SLI chipsets.

Therefore, from the marketing perspective, the 780i SLI SPP chipset is a big leap forward. But its practical advantage is merely in a guaranteed support for 45-nm Yorkfield and Wolfdale processors. But in view of the fact that the date of release of Intel processors with the 400 MHz (1600 MHz QPB) bus, the lifespan of nForce 7xx SLI series chipsets will not be long. However, there aren't any technical limitations in the new chipsets for operation at this frequency, because as our overclocking experiments have shown, these chipsets are quite capable of running at 500 MHz as well.

As regards the expansion options, they have not been improved: The south bridge 780i SLI MCP supports six SerialATA II links (levels RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5), one ParallelATA link, ten USB 2.0 ports, HDA (Azalia), and two Gigabit network connections. At the same time, there is support for all NVIDIA's proprietary technologies like MediaSheild, FirstPacket, DualNet, etc.

Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5 Specifications

Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5


Gigabyte 780SLI-DS5
CPU - Intel Pentium 4 (Prescott (2M)/Gallatin/CedarMill) with the bus speeds 1066/800/533 MHz
- Dual-core Intel Pentium D/EE (Smithfield/Presler) with the bus speeds 800/1066 MHz
- Intel Celeron-D (Conroe-L, Prescott) with the bus speeds 800/533 MHz
- Support for Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad (Kentsfield (4 cores), Conroe/Allendale (2 cores)) with the bus speeds 1333/1066/800 MHz
- Support for Intel Yorkfield, Wolfdale with the bus speeds 1333/1066/800 MHz
- Socket LGA775
- Support for HyperThreading
Chipset - North bridge nForce 780i SLI SPP
- South bridge nForce 780i SLI MCP
- Bridge PCI Express v2.0 nForce 200
- Interbridge communication: HyperTransport bus (1 GHz)
System Memory - Four 240-pin slots for DDR-II SDRAM DIMM
- Maximum memory capacity 8 GB
- Dual-channel memory access
- Supported memory DDR2 400/533/667/800/1066/1200 (EPP)
Graphics - Three PCI Express x16 (2? 16 v2.0 + 1? 16 v1.0) slots
Expansion options - Two 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots
- One PCI Express x1 slot
- Ten USB 2.0 ports (6 integrated + 4 additional)
- Three IEEE1394 ports (Firewire; 1 integrated + 2 additional)
- Integrated High Definition Audio
- Two Gigabit Ethernet LAN controllers
Overclocking options - FSB adjustable within 100 to 650 MHz; multiplier adjustable
- Adjustable voltages on the CPU, memory, HT bus, FSB, and the chipset (nb + sb)
- Gigabyte C.I.A. 2
- Gigabyte EasyTune5
Disk subsystem - One link for UltraDMA133/100/66/33 Bus Master IDE (with support for up to two ATAPI devices & RAID 0, 1)
- Support for SerialATA II (6 links - nForce 780i SLI, with support for RAID 0,1,5, 0+1 and JBOD)
- Additional SerialATA II/Raid controller (Gigabyte SATA2 chip, 2 SerialATA II links)
- Support for LS-120 / ZIP / ATAPI CD-ROM
BIOS - 2x 8 Mbit Flash ROM
- Award Phoenix BIOS with support for Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features and Trend Chip Away Virus
- Gigabyte Q-Flash
- @BIOS and Face-Wizard
- Gigabyte Virtual Dual BIOS
Misc - One port for FDD, one serial and one parallel port, ports for PS/2 mouse and keyboard
- IrDA
- STR (Suspend to RAM)
- SPDIF In/Out
Power management - Wake-up on modem, mouse, keyboard, LAN, timer, and USB
- 24-pin power connector ATX (ATX-PW)
- Additional 8-pin power connector
- Additional 4-pin Molex power connector
Monitoring - Monitoring the temperatures of the CPU, system, monitoring of voltages, determination of rotational speed of the three fans
- Gigabyte Smart Fan
Dimensions - ATX form factor, 244 mm x 305 mm (9.63" x 12")

Content:

  • Стр.1 - Specifications, package bundle
  • Стр.2 - Layout and Features; Expansion options
  • Стр.3 - BIOS, monitoring, overclocking tools
  • Стр.4 - Performance and conclusions




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