More nForce 590: SLI Memory (EPP) and nTune 5.0
Another new feature incorporated into the nForce 500 family of products required the cooperation of Corsair to bring to fruition. Enhanced Performance Profiles, or EPP, is a feature designed to maximize system performance by automatically tweaking memory and CPU frequencies, multipliers and voltages. If you'd like to take a look at the official announcement from Corsair, it's available as a PDF download from their on-line virtual press room. The announcement was made on May 15, 2005.
Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP)
EPP is a new open memory standard that we expect will be adopted by a number of motherboard and memory manufacturers. Enhanced Performance Profiles increases performance by taking advantage of additional memory parameters added to the unused portion of a standard JEDEC Serial Presence Detect, or SPD. The JEDEC specification only calls for small amount of data to be stored in a standard SPD, which leaves a significant amount of unused space. EPP takes advantage of this space to store specific information about the modules, like their maximum supported frequencies and timings.
EPP also needs motherboard support to function as well. To support EPP a motherboard's BIOS has to be programmed to snoop the upper portion of the SPD to find the EPP relevant data. That data is then used in conjunction with a pre-determined set of parameters stored in the system BIOS to automatically tweak performance.
For example, if the EPP data stored in the SPD states a particular memory kit is capable of running at 1066MHz with 5-5-5-12 timings, EPP will automatically alter the processor's multiplier, voltage and bus speed, along with the memory voltage, to get as close to said memory's rated speed as possible. EPP will also overclock the processor by a user determined percentage to hit the memory's rated speed. The Foxconn motherboard you'll see on the next page has full support for EPP incorporated into its BIOS. We'll be testing this feature in our upcoming review of that motherboard.
To coincide with the launch of the nForce 500 family, NVIDIA is also releasing a new version of their nTune system tweaking utility. When used with a motherboard that has all of the BIOS hooks necessary to support nTune, the application gives users the ability to alter virtually every performance related BIOS option from within Windows. Take a look at the screenshot above to see the vast number of options that can be altered with nTune. With the exception of the CPU multiplier, you'll see that there's nothing in regard to the CPU, chipset, and memory that can't be tweaked.
NVIDIA also sent over a handful of Flash animations to help explain the features and benefits of the nForce 500 family of chipsets. If you'd like to get a visual representation of how the features we've talked about on the preceding pages work, take a few minutes and navigate through the menu below. The animations are not very big, so even the unfortunate among you that are still on dial-up should be able to see them all very quickly.