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NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400Gb Preview - Page 1 of 2

INTRODUCTION

Today NVIDIA will be announcing their new nForce2 Ultra 400Gb Media Communications Processor (MCP) for AMD Athlon XP processor-based motherboards. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to test the new features on the reference motherboard that NVIDIA provided.

NVIDIA nForce2 Ultra 400Gb

The new features serve to enhance the nForce2 platform and consist of Gigabit Ethernet, hardware-based Firewall security, and RAID storage support. With the exception of the number of SATA devices supported (2 vs. 4), the Force2 Ultra 400Gb basically has the same feature set as the new nForce3 250Gb for motherboards that support the Athlon 64 processor.

GIGABIT ETHERNET

Similar to the transition from the standard 10 megabits per second (Mbps) Ethernet to Fast Ethernet in the 1990s, Gigabit Ethernet delivers a tenfold improvement in network bandwidth. Gigabit Ethernet is the successor to Fast Ethernet and uses the same Category 5 (CAT5) cables and operates over the same network infrastructure. What distinguishes Gigabit Ethernet from its predecessor is throughput. While Fast Ethernet delivers up to 100 Mbps of throughput, Gigabit Ethernet delivers up to 1,000 Mbps, or 1 gigabit per second (Gbps).

NVIDIA Gigabit Ethernet

NVIDIA's Gigabit Ethernet technology features a dedicated, high-speed Gigabit Ethernet port, and the integration of the Media Access Control (MAC) component with the nForce chip-level solution. This approach eliminates potential problems that result from bus contention. While many PCs continue to use Ethernet and Fast Ethernet network adapters over the PCI bus, Gigabit Ethernet exceeds the maximum throughput that is provided by the PCI bus. In this case, Gigabit Ethernet will fail to operate at its full potential due to constraints of the PCI bus bandwidth and will also be affected if the PCI bus is shared with other high-speed devices.

NVIDIA FIREWALL

NVIDIA Firewall is the industry's first driver-based and hardware-optimized personal Firewall solution and it integrated into the nForce2 400Gb MCP. Any PC that is connected to the Internet is vulnerable to malicious attacks. Data packets are continuously sent out by attackers that exploit software and operating system bugs in an attempt to disable the PC or to gain unauthorized access.

NVIDIA Firewall Main Menu

NVIDIA Firewall was recently certified by ICSA Labs.

To earn ICSA Labsí coveted certification, NVIDIA submitted nForce-based motherboards incorporating NVIDIA Personal Firewall to ICSA Labs who tested the operability, functionality, and vulnerability of the NVIDIA personal firewall solution. The extensive testing program, entirety created and controlled by the Lab Services Program within ICSA Labs, was designed to evaluate security and administrative functionality, and rate the overall effectiveness of NVIDIA Firewall in a litany of different scenarios, including Denial of Service (DoS), Trojan attacks, and application hijacking. The criteria established are based on specific requirements generated through market segment research, security product classification and available features of the security device to be evaluated. A full copy of the report, detailing the testing methodology, can be found at at this link (108 KB PDF).

"Given the proliferation of hackers, viruses, and worms populating the World Wide Web, security should be a concern for every PC user. Our Lab Services testing process was designed to test the functional and platform security of NVIDIA Firewall in a realistic deployment scenario," said George Japak, Vice President of ICSA Labs. "We congratulate NVIDIA on developing a solution that offers consumers a solution for enhancing personal security and reducing overall vulnerability levels."

NVIDIA Firewall was designed to protect PCs that are connected to the Internet from unauthorized access with no noticeable impact on system performance. Having witnessed the havoc that malicious attacks cause, NVIDIA Firewall would be a requirement on any nForce2 Ultra 400Gb motherboard that I would consider purchasing.

NVIDIA Firewall Wizards

Highlights of NVIDIA Firewall include:

  • NVIDIA Firewall kicks in the minute the network driver is loaded. With software application based firewalls there is a period of vulnerability when booting up the PC.


  • Contains anti-hacking features to prevent spoofing and other hacker attacks.


  • One-click operation for those who know nothing about firewalls. Wizards help users easily set up their system and firewall to allow things such as a game server, FTP server or client, or web server.


  • It's free and is a part of NVIDIA's Forceware software package. Drivers and software can be downloaded directly from NVIDIA.


  • Up to three custom profiles are supported. Based on their knowledge, users can drill down in configuration as deep as they want.


  • Firewall management is supported from a remote location using SSL encryption, user name and password, and even network and subnet address.


  • The graphical user interface is web based and not a Windows application.


  • Settings can be exported and imported.


  • Logging capabilities include activity logging, packets in/out, hacking attempts, etc. Logs can be exported for further analysis.


  • Reduced CPU utilization for improved system performance.


  • Great for gaming. No need to turn off the firewall to play online. NVIDIA Firewall protects you while playing, without any performance hit.

NVIDIA RAID

NVIDIA's RAID technology is a standard feature in the latest NVIDIA nForce MCPs and offers a cost-effective platform for reliable and optimized data storage.

NVIDIA Raid

With a user friendly interface, NVIDIA's solution removes the barriers that have been associated with RAID storage management.

NVIDIA Raid

Capabilities of NVIDIA RAID include the following features:

  • RAID across PATA and SATA - NVIDIA RAID can span across both Parallel ATA as well as Serial ATA controllers. RAID operations can be performed on Parallel ATA hard drives, Serial ATA hard drives, or both Parallel and Serial ATA hard drives.


  • Spare drive and dedicated drive support - Spare drive can be used with RAID 1 and RAID 0+1 only. A spare drive is a drive marked as available and ready for use when a drive that is used in any RAID 1 or RAID 0+1 fails. A dedicated drive is a drive that is marked as available and ready to be used by a specific RAID array when a drive in that array fails.

    For example, if a system is configured with two RAID levels such as RAID 1 and RAID 0+1, but one drive is marked as a dedicated drive to RAID 1, then the dedicated drive will be used by the RAID 1 array when a drive in that array fails. RAID 0+1 cannot use a drive that is dedicated to RAID 1 even if the RAID 0+1 loses one of its drives.


  • Bootable RAID - Any supported operating system can boot from any support RAID level. For example, a user can configure Windows XP to boot from RAID 0, or a user can configure Windows 2000 Professional to boot from RAID 1.

Next Page: Motherboard Layout, Tests, and Thoughts

Last Updated on May 10, 2004


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