NVIDIA's nForce 4: Feature Overview
The NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition shares many of the same features as the nForce 4 SLI for the AMD platform. The nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition has full support (plus more) for nVRAID, which has been re-branded "MediaShield" for this launch. It also incorporates NVIDIA's "ActiveArmor" and Firewall technology, along with support for NVIDIA's "nTune" performance monitor and tweaking application, and of course SLI. For more information on the nForce 4's main features, we suggest taking a look at this article. We cover the nForce 4 SLI's main features in that piece.
With the nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition, NVIDIA has beefed up their NVRAID technology with the ability to support bootable RAID 5 arrays. And with this new feature, also comes a new name - "MediaShield". As hard drives have become less and less expensive, we've gotten to the point where the data being stored on the drive is more valuable than the drive itself. Of course, this has always been the case in the enterprise, but on home PCs, in many cases, users weren't really storing much valuable data. Today, however, with huge MP3 and movie collections now commonplace, having the ability to secure personal files, and access them quickly, is very important. With MediaShield, users have the ability to create RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1, JBOD, cross controller RAID, spare disk allocation arrays and have a bootable RAID 5 array. And with NVIDIA's support software installed, users are given a graphical representation of their motherboard, in the event of a drive failure. The port that is highlighted on the alert, is associated with the drive that failed, so zeroing in a problem drive is relatively easy.
NVIDIA also points out that the drive controllers integrated into their MCP are more robust than some competing solutions. NVIDIA claims that the advantage of a dual-controller architecture, like the one in their MCP, is that it provides two separate and independent transfer paths to and from system memory, which will result in up to twice the bandwidth to disk. NVIDIA's MCP also supports SATA II (300MB/s) transfers and Native Command Queing (NCQ). Two features that aren't native to any other core logic chipset, with the exception of Intel's recently announced ICH7 Southbridge.
ActiveArmor / NVIDIA Firewall / Native Gigabit Ethernet:
To compliment the native Gigabit ethernet controller incorporated into the nForce 4 SLI Intel Edition chipset, NVIDIA has also brought their proprietary ActiveArmor technology to the Intel platform. ActiveArmor is NVIDIA's secure networking engine that's integrated into the nForce 4 MCP. A portion of the 21 million transistors that comprise the MCP was dedicated to logic meant to enhance networking security while at the same time reducing CPU overhead. The ActiveArmor engine is also capable of packet inspection of full line-rate network traffic at full-duplex gigabit Ethernet speeds.
The screenshots above represent just a few of the sections available to users in the nVFirewall interface. NVIDIA's Firewall is quite powerful and generally has more features than the average router/firewall many broadband subscribers currently use. The nVFirewall offers many advanced management features such as remote access, configuration, monitoring, command line interface (CLI), and WMI scripts. And on top of the firewall and antihacking features of ActiveArmor, it supports stateless and stateful packet inspection, Web-based management, predefined security profiles, port block filtering, and Intelligent Application Manager, remote administration, and an easy-to-use configuration wizard. The nVFirewall also incorporates some anti-IP-spoofing, antisniffing, anti-ARP cachepoisoning, and anti-DHCP server technologies.