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The nForce 590 SLI: DualNet and First Packet

To coincide with the launch of AMD's brand-new socket and processors, NVIDIA is releasing a new family of nForce chipsets, each designed for a different target audience.  The new nForce 500 series of products consists of the new flagship nForce 590 SLI, the nForce 570 SLI, the 570 Ultra, and 550.

As you can see, all of the new chipsets in the nForce 500 family share the same base feature set, which includes 10 USB 2.0 ports, 6 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports, High Definition Audio, dual-GigE LAN, and MediaShield with RAID 5 support.  The nForce 550 (not listed), however, is similar to the 570 Ultra, but with only 4 SATA ports, single GigE LAN, and support for RAID 0 and 1 -- no RAID 5. In addition to these features, NVIDIA is also unveiling a handful of new technologies including DualNet with FirstPacket and Teaming, LinkBoost, and SLI Memory.

NVIDIA DualNet Technology
Double Your Networking Pleasure

As it's name implies, DualNet is a reference to the dual independent Gigabit Ethernet MACs incorporated into the nForce 590 / 570 chipsets.  DualNet is more than a pair of MACs though.  Both GigE MACs feature TCP/IP acceleration which offloads many functions from the host processor to lower CPU utilization, and can do RSS, or Receive Side Scaling. NVIDIA's software engineers have also enabled a few useful features that aren't available on competing products.


DualNet 2X Bandwidth: Teaming

DualNet Failover

Having dual independent MACs gives NVIDIA the ability to link a pair of GigE LAN connections together to enable Teaming with Failover protection. With Teaming, both GigE connections are essentially linked, and appear as a single 2Gb connection for double the theoretical max bandwidth to the network.  And with Failover protection, should one of the GigE connections be compromised in any way, the other automatically takes over and keeps the system connected.

NVIDIA FirstPacket
Lower Pings Through Prioritization

Another new feature integrated into NVIDIA's DualNet engine is dubbed FirstPacket.  FirstPacket is a technology that lets user's prioritize data packets from specified applications, like games for example.


NVIDIA First Packet

When multiple applications are in contention for network resources a typical configuration will balance the load between applications.  But with FirstPacket, a user can specify a particular application, and when said application is sending data packets, the FirstPacket Prioritizer sends those packets to a dedicated queue, and in turn they are prioritized ahead of other applications.  FirstPacket will be useful for gamers who want to keep their pings as low as possible while running other applications that also use network resources (FTP, IM Clients, etc.), or for those who use VoIP applications like Skype on regular basis.


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