When NVIDIA “launched” the original nForce chipset at Computex 2001 in Taiwan, no one expected it to take almost half a year to reach widespread availability. By the time the chipset was actually available VIA’s KT266A was entrenched in the market and NVIDIA’s nForce saw little initial success.
Earlier this year NVIDIA finally enjoyed a handful of OEM design wins for the nForce platform and followed it up with a much more mature launch of nForce2 in July. Supposedly learning from their mistakes, we were lead to believe that nForce2 would not have any of the issues that we found with the original nForce launch.
Looking at today’s date, it’s now almost three months since NVIDIA “launched” the nForce2 chipset and we’re finally able to bring you a review of pre-production hardware. What was this about learning from their mistakes? No manufacturer is perfect though, even Intel has their own set of screwups when it comes to chipsets (motherboard manufacturers aren’t happy that they’ve had to go from 845 to 845DDR to 845E to 845PE in a year).
With that one gripe out of the way, we actually have been eagerly awaiting the release of NVIDIA’s second Athlon XP chipset. Our expectations for the chipset weren’t unreasonably high, which was the case with the original nForce, and there are many more launch partners this time around. While you still shouldn’t expect retail availability for another few weeks, boards are either ready or in the final stages of preparation for mass production.
This article will not focus on the architecture behind the nForce2 chipset nor will it detail the graphics performance of nForce2. For chipset details read our Technology Overview of the nForce2 and for integrated graphics performance, we’ve got another article in the works that you’ll come across later this week.