780i SLI Sneak Peek
|780i SLI Sneak Peek|
|3-Way SLI and Chipsets|
|Tour the 780i SLI Motherboard|
|780i SLI BIOS and Final Thoughts|
Product: nForce 780i SLI Reference Board
In a few days we expect to see an official launch of the nForce 780i SLI chipset, preceded by the launch of nVidia's 3-way SLI. This triple SLI will be able to run on the 680i chipset, but will be a bit limited due to the lack of PCIe lanes on that particular board. The 680i chipset along supports graphics configurations of 16x/16x/8x and limits the third card to half the bandwidth of the other two cards. Also a limiting factor of the 680i chipset is its confirmed lack of support for Intel 45nm Quad Core (Yorkfield) CPUs. The 680i has no trouble with the 45nm (Wolfdale) Dual Core CPUs, but lacks a circuit required for the 45nm Quads. We were hoping that a BIOS update would do the trick, but this has been denied by nVidia as they say the boards don't have the physical circuitry to get the job done.
It's for this reason that nVidia is set to launch the 780i SLI chipset. This chipset supports all three graphics cards at a full 16x each - thanks to the help of some other chipsets. The 780i SLI motherboard is actually comprised of an NF780i-SLI chipset, an NF570SLI chipset and the NF200 chipset that adds PCIe 2.0 support to this board. Is this board a patch job until the 790i chipset comes out that supports DDR3, or is it a worthy step up from the 680i SLI? Both boards will support 3-Way SLI, but both will require a special 3-way SLI connector that is rumored to cost up to $80 at launch. If demand is high and supply is low, we could expect to see these connects sell for much more online. There are so many unanswered questions that will have to wait until release, but for now we've got a bunch of pictures and some more information about the 780i SLI.
The actual Code name of the chipset is the C72 XE, and below is a list of features that it supports.
- CPU Support - Conroe, Kentsfield, Wolfdale, Yorkfield
- Bus between Chipsets - HyperTransport 8GB/s
- FSB - 1333MHz +
- Max Memory - 16GB
- Memory - 1200, 1066, 800, 667, 533
- PCI Express - Gen.2: 2x16 - Gen.1 1x16, 1x8, 6x1
- PCIe Lanes - 46
- SLI - 3x 16
- Hybrid SLI - No (Ability to mix and match models. (eg. 8800GT with 8800GTS))
- SLI Memory - Yes
- SATA/PATA - 6/2
- RAID - 0, 1, 0+1, 5
- GbE Net - 2
- USB - 10
The board we snagged also has firewire and other goodies like HD Audio, but these are not natively supported by the nVidia chipset(s), but rather third party chips.
Many people have expressed concern regarding the heat output of the 680i SLI chipset and hoped that the 780i would be a different story. By the looks of the cooling solution, nVidia expects this board to get warm. Keep in mind that the cooling setup is actually cooling three separate chipsets as well as FETs near the CPU socket.
On the next page we'll take a look at all the PCIe slots and the chipsets on this board.