iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA GeForce 7025/7050 Chipsets

An integrated series for AMD64 with HDMI support.

July 13, 2007

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As only Intel used to offer a "reference" platform (processor + chipset from the same manufacturer), its marketing specialists had a free hand here. And when a chipset or a processor (or both) from Intel were outscored by a competing combo of an AMD processor + ATI/NVIDIA chipset, the company could persuade system integrators, especially large ones, that it's profitable to buy processors and chipsets from the same manufacturer. But times change. Now all world manufacturers of personal computers use AMD processors. And with the appearance of integrated chipsets from AMD, there emerges a necessity to compare commercial (as well as home and other) platforms. And the platform from Intel has evidently lost the first comparison round. AMD 690-series chipsets differ from Intel 965 chipsets.

  • They offer expanded functionality, including support for two digital video-outs with integrated support for HDMI and HDCP. Not the least of the factors is that the budget modification (690V) has the same frequency and characteristics of the graphics core as the 690G. It just lacks support for the second monitor (such motherboards are equipped with a plain VGA Out), while Intel cuts down its budget solutions much more severely.
  • Higher performance in tasks that depend on a GPU, and sterling support for DirectX 9.
  • Power-efficient, TDP measured under maximum load (AMD's tradition) is 9 W. It's three times (!) as low as the official value specified by Intel for G965 (28 W). This difference must have an effect on reliability, prices, and noise generated by a cooling system and a motherboard in general.

In fact, considering prices of PC components (processors and motherboards), it's difficult to lay down technical reasons to use the Intel platform in the segment of computers with integrated graphics. With the launch of G33 chipset, Intel hopes to catch up with its competitor in functionality and reduce heat release. But motherboards on this chipset will hardly compete with AMD 690G-based motherboards in prices in the nearest future. And the main point - the outdated "tile" graphics core, which Intel inherited from PowerVR, can hardly be improved. Hence its low performance and compatibility problems with programs, which require ATI Radeon or NVIDIA GeForce GPU architectures as the industry standard.

But does it mean that NVIDIA is out-of-bounds now, and AMD can service its processors on its own? NVIDIA people don't think so. They count on increasing their share of the chipset market owing to chipset shipments for the AMD platform. We can guess that they mean GeForce 6100 chipsets in the first place, which are used in most models for Socket AM2. They are actively consumed by system integrators, including DELL. What concerns motherboards with a relatively powerful graphics core and developed multimedia functionality, for example for HTPC, NVIDIA has a fresh solution to be reviewed in this article.

So, NVIDIA decided to pack functions of north and south bridges into a single chip for top models of chipsets with integrated graphics as well. It had already done that with GeForce 6100 chipsets. This solution demonstrated surprisingly low heat release. But its functionality was cut down compared to dual-chip models. What do we have here?

Chipset GPU clock PCI-E HD Video, DVI, TV-Out Int. HDMI/ HDCP SATA RAID PATA USB Ethernet
GeForce 7050 PV (SE) + nForce 630a 425 1x16, 3x1 + + 4 0, 1, 0+1, 5 1 12 PCIE/PCI
GeForce 7025 + nForce 630a 425 1x16, 3x1 DVI only - 4 0, 1, 0+1, 5 1 10 PCIE/PCI
GeForce 6150 + nForce 430 475 1x16, 2x1 + - 4 0, 1, 0+1, 5 2 8 built-in MAC (Gigabit Ethernet)
GeForce 6150 SE + nForce 430 425 1x16, 2x1 only DVI and TV-Out through sDVO - 4 0, 1, 0+1, 5 1 10 built-in MAC (Gigabit Ethernet)
AMD 690G + SB600 400 1x16, 4x1 + + 4 0, 1, 0+1 1 10 PCIE/PCI
AMD 690V + SB600 400 1x16, 4x1 only HD Video and TV-Out - 4 0, 1, 0+1 1 10 PCIE/PCI

The graphics core got the updated architecture of the GeForce 7 series. But it has as many pipelines as GeForce 6150 (one vertex and two pixel pipes), and its frequency matches that of GeForce 6100 (425 MHz). GeForce 7050 offers built-in support for two video-outs (analog and digital). It's digital video output can be used with DVI or HDMI, HDCP encoding is supported. The chip also has an integrated TV-out. The analog output is based on the 300 MHz RAMDAC, so this solution supports resolutions up to 1920x1440 (75 Hz), Single-Link DVI supports up to 1600x1200. What concerns GeForce 7025, it can only boast of the second video output (DVI). PureVideo is supported only by GeForce 7050 (hardware acceleration of H.264, VC-1 and MPEG-2 video playback, post processing of SD and HD video (1080p), including deinterlacing, color temperature correction, and smart scaling of low-res video for comfortable playback on a HD screen).

Both models support a full-size graphics port PCI Express x16. The number of USB ports is increased. The chipset supports HD Audio only (AC'97 is not supported). But this time there is no famous MAC adapter with a hardware firewall and other proprietary features from NVIDIA. The integrated network functionality is now available only in discrete chipsets from NVIDIA. It's not improbable that it will survive only in the most expensive modifications.

Of course, this option allowed NVIDIA to attract more attention to its products. Besides, it was an interesting solution. But the choice of network adapters for PCI Express designed for motherboard integration is wide these days. A hardware firewall can also be added to a motherboard. So it's not at all necessary to integrate such functionality into a chipset. Most users will hardly notice benefits of unpacking network traffic on the hardware level (if it can be registered subjectively at all, without low-level tests), while the reduction of heat release is always welcome (network adapters heat NVIDIA chipsets noticeably, you can see it in tests with active network traffic).

As we can see, NVIDIA has come close in its chipsets to what we can see in AMD 690G, so the main comparison awaits us in performance tests. Designation of the top model looks funny, NVIDIA people like letter indices so much that they couldn't decide this time what name to use - PV (that's how the chipset is named in specifications) or SE (on the chip and in the driver). In our opinion, a single model in a family with this numeric index might have done well without letters.

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