ECS was kind enough to invite Bjorn3D to its first Editors’ Day event in the US. We cover all the interesting stuff that ECS presented during the event, including HYBRID motherboards and Scalable Dual Graphic Engine (S.D.G.E.).
[review_ad]Introduction to ECS
ECS was kind enough to invite us to its recent Editors’ Day event in California. I was the lucky one from Bjorn3D who got to go and enjoy some interesting presentations from ECS and some of its partners, including ATi, NVIDIA, AMD and Intel. The purpose of the event was to introduce the the press to the “new ECS.” It didn’t take this event for me (and many of you no doubt) to realize that ECS was in the middle of a change. As I recognized in my ECS KN1 Extreme motherboard review, this company is trying to and succeeding in catching the attention of enthusiasts with its Extreme line of motherboards. If you read mine and other KN1 Extreme reviews on the Internet, then you know ECS and its employees are not just talking the talk, but they are also walking the walk.
ECS has always competed on price, but low price doesn’t always mean high value. In the case of appealing to enthusiasts, ECS will focus on price and value, aiming for the best bang for the buck. Many enthusiasts don’t really consider price as much as the average consumer, but ECS believes that it can grab their attention by providing excellent performance and features at great prices.
For Editors’ Day, ECS started us off with a tour of its California office, a large and impressive building. The office spans over 120,000 square feet, of which only 20,000 square feet is office space. The rest is for manufacturing, testing, quality assurance, etc. You can see how expansive the space is in the pictures below.
If you thought that ECS only made motherboards, you couldn’t be more wrong. In addition to being a leading producer of motherboards, the company also designs and manufactures innovative notebooks, DeskNotes, portable desktop PCs and multimedia products. ECS takes research and development very seriously and is always coming up with new ideas and developing new products. For instance, ECS claims to be the first company to put standard desktop PC components in a notebook PC case to create a very portable yet affordable computer. In 2000, ECS called it the DeskNote.
Innovation at ECS: HYBRID & S.D.G.E.
Motherboards, though, were the focus of Editors’ Day, and one of ECS’s most recent innovations, the Extreme HYBRID series motherboard, received quite a bit of attention in ECS’s presentation. You may have already seen reviews of the PF88 Extreme HYBRID motherboard on the Internet. ECS developed EliteBus technology to accommodate its SIMA platform converter card. The SIMA card inserts into a slot on the HYBRID motherboard to convert the Intel (LGA775 socket) platform to the AMD (socket 939) platform.
ECS has been careful to engineer the HYBRID motherboards and SIMA cards so that users do not experience any type of negative performance hit. Afterall, you should be able to use either platform without worrying about performance. There wouldn’t be much point in the technology otherwise. ECS also plans to develop SIMA cards for the following platforms: AMD socket M2, AMD socket 754 and Intel socket 479 (Pentium-M), all of which will be 100% compatbile with a standard ATX chassis.
The other big innovative idea presented by ECS was S.D.G.E. or Scalable Dual Graphic Engines. ECS is still developing this idea, but the company already has a working prototype. S.D.G.E. consists of a slot on a motherboard and the appropriate S.D.G.E. card that will enable a second PCI Express x16 graphics slot on a motherboard that only has one x16 slot. Most of us were wondering what the point of that is when NVIDIA just announced its SLI x16 boards, and it won’t be too long before other chipsets include two x16 graphics slots. ECS claims that they aren’t focused on enthusiasts so much with this technology but rather on average consumers. ECS wants to employ this technology on entry-level motherboards ($60-70) and enable consumers to purchase the S.D.G.E. card later to essentially upgrade their PCI Express capabilities, not just for graphics but also for other PCI Express expansion cards that should be hitting the market soon.
As you can see, the S.D.G.E. card is the entire width of the motherboard, at least in its prototype form. The big push from ECS is that you can use any pair of ATi or NVIDIA cards with this technology. While it is a very intriguing concept, I’m still wondering how ECS will make it successful. I wish ECS the best of luck with it, and we’ll definitely keep an eye on it to see what comes of S.D.G.E. Keep in mind that ECS will have to get cooperation from ATi and NVIDIA on the driver side of things to make this a successful product.
ECS Scalable Dual Graphic Engines
- Dual PCIE X 16 Slots
- Upgradeability / Performance
- Support up to 4 displays
- Multiple Mix
- PCIE X 16 + PCIE X 4
- PCIE X 8 + PCIE X 8
- PCIE X 16 + PCIE X 16
One of the biggest launches this month will be CrossFire, and ECS showed us working CrossFire motherboards. Unfortunately, we couldn’t convince them to let us see any benchmark results; we only got to see 3DMark05 looping. Here are some pictures of ECS’s CrossFire boards in action.
And here are some pics of various boards and some SLI action.
ECS is a company that embraces innovation and doesn’t rest on its laurels. That is why we recently saw ECS enter the enthusiast motherboard market and why the company is releasing products like the Extreme HYBRID motherboard and S.D.G.E. technology. ECS USA’s CEO See See Lo mentioned that the transition to the “new ECS” is happening now, and that the company is ready to meet its goals in the next 12 months. So, in a year, we’ll be able to see if ECS’s gambles and innovations pay off.
Overall, the ECS Editors’ Day event was very refreshing and fun. ECS employees are ready and willing to listen to input from editors and users alike. They want to give users what they want at a competitive price. If ECS can consistently produce Extreme motherboards that perform well and offer enthusiast-oriented features, then its efforts will be welcomed and rewarded.
If ECS pays attention and listens to the feedback it gets from reviewers and users, I believe it can continue to mature and make a positive impact on the enthusiast market.
I’d like to extend a huge thanks to Joanne Lo and the entire ECS crew for inviting Bjorn3D to its first Editors’ Day event.