Platform Conference Wrap Up
By: Van Smith
Date: February 5, 2002
AGP Riser Card Standard
We have written in detail about riser card standards in the past. A riser card is an enabling technology to untap integrated functionality. The most promising new riser card standard opening up south bridge features is ACR (Advanced Communications Riser). One of ACR's strongest proponents has been nVidia, which needs ACR to unlock the nForce's feature rich MCP south bridge.
Although a rookie in the core logic business, nVidia has entered the market with a bang. Not content with its current overflowing bag of goodies, nVidia is looking for ways to open up extra functionality, this time out of its north bridge .
One of the most successful technologies over the last few months has been LCD flat screens. Although many of those sold have been analog and can work with VGA outputs, to really take advantage of the digital nature of LCDs, DVI must be used.
Another technology that is booming is integrated chipsets like the nForce. Unfortunately for integrated graphics cores, there is currently no standard way to output DVI and there is no space in the external connector back plane and even if there was space for the connector, this part of the motherboard has one of the highest component / trace densities already.
To allow integrated graphics cores to provide DVI and equally important TV out signals, nVidia is proposing an AGP riser card standard where these connectors will be enabled through a card plugging into the AGP slot.
Dual-head (two simultaneous monitors) support is also possible through this inexpensive solution.
Mobile AGP Package
nVidia is also behind an AGP related standard in the mobile space. Dubbed "Mobile AGP Package" or "MAP," this design combines the essential components of an AGP card on a tiny 31mm square BGA mounted substrate.
The BGA substrate provides extra layers for DDR SDRAM avoiding additional motherboard layers that would significantly drive up production prices. With its modularity, MAP greatly reduces mobile motherboard design complexity.
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