PF88 Hybrid Motherboard

Processor options have become more complicated in recent months. There are more socket types, bus choices, different memory - all of which make the change from one platform to another more difficult.

This proliferation of CPU options will continue, as we see mobiles moving to desktop, AMD M2 and other new developments in the months ahead. ECS believes that they can make your platform choice simpler in this environment.

Their solution is an Extreme Hybrid motherboard with a stable PCIe southbridge, since southbridges change slowly over time, coupled with a slot mounted CPU/Northbridge card.

ECS calls this innovation, already on the market, the PF88 motherboard. The base board includes all the current "hot" features, like SATA 2 with NCQ, DDR2-667, PCIe video, 8-channel audio, and firewire on a 4-phase motherboard. ECS then includes a SIMA slot that allows the user to mount a Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64 processor on this same board.

For the AMD socket 939, ECS has the A9S SIMA card. Insert the A9S in the PF88 motherboard, and you have a full AMD Athlon 64 Socket 939 motherboard with 1000HTT and dual-channel DDR.

For Editors Day, ECS introduced two new SIMA modules.

First was the A7S (also called the A4S in some descriptions), which supports the AMD Athlon 64 Socket 754.

Perhaps even more significant for many enthusiasts is the introduction of the I9S SIMA card. This module fully supports the Intel Mobile (Pentium M) socket 479 processor that has become the core for future Intel desktop processors.

ECS was showing performance data, which claimed that there was no performance penalty in using the SIMA modules compared to motherboards based on the same chipsets. The chipset, however, will be an issue for some users, since the entire PF88 family and modules are based on SiS chipsets. We have reported good results in the past with SiS chipsets and it is satisfying to see these used in a really creative product like PF88. However, SiS is more often seen in low-end motherboards.

Where can PF88 and SIMA go in the future?

It appears that SIMA can go most anywhere in the near future. Already in the works is an M2 module for the upcoming new AMD Socket 940 M2 with support for DDR2-667.

SLI, Crossfire, and S.D.G.E. Intel and AMD


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  • Sengir - Tuesday, September 27, 2005 - link

    I'm surprised Anandtech would state that ECS motherboards were stable.
    I worked at Fry's Electronics for over a year in their Service Dept., and the Fry's PC is built by ECS. 90% of all Fry's PCs brought back had a defective motherboard.
    Great Quality is another ECS name.. They are just as bad, if not worse. Most salesman cringe at having to sell them, but they are required to. Seems their return rate is that high.

    Even before I worked there a friend of mine had one that didn't work properly when he bought it.

    Oh, and I remember reading that ECS makes motherboards for MSI & Asus. <<Reason I don't buy from MSI or Asus.
  • AtaStrumf - Tuesday, September 6, 2005 - link

    My only ECS board was K7S5A and it worked OK, but definately not 100% stable, but hey the same goes for many of my ABIT, Iwill, Epox and MSI boards. MOBOs just generaly suck. It seems to me, that you need to get lucky to get a good one. My current DFI NF3 250 GB LANPARTY is a wonder. It works 110% stable. MUUWA! But again some had horrible problems with it. And one last piece of advice: never buy a rev. 1.00 MOBO!!! Reply
  • Pirks - Sunday, September 4, 2005 - link

    Just a general observation about ECS, ASRock and other slotted "combo" or "upgrade" mobos out there: they all lack the ability to utilize previously installed onboard RAM as soon as you pop a slot upgrade card in there. You either have a couple of DIMMs on the mobo OR a couple of DIMMs on the slot card, but NOT the both. Sooo... if I ever need some serious RAM in my PC, I'll never buy any of these. They are OK for ppl on a budget who never have more than 512M or 1GB of memory, but no power user will buy them I think, unless this is a kind of user who knows that "2 DIMM slots is enough forever". And since you can get 2GB RAM quite cheaper if you buy it in four 512M sticks, then you'll pay more for the memory if you buy that "cheap" mobo with two DIMM slots only. Save here, lose there. Reply
  • dali71 - Sunday, September 4, 2005 - link

    Let us never forget the checkered past of PC Chips.">Scumbags
  • beorntheold - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    my first ECS experience - new K7S5A... once a week the BIOS would reset itself to default (weak battery? not that it matters)... the core voltage was 0.02 off... underclocked per default... virtually no control over voltages or even fsb. a ton of options in the BIOS settings that don't seem to be documented anywhere on the Internet.

    my second ECS experience - a brand new N2U400A - with an absolutely stable PSU the core voltage would drop below 1.635 V under load (the PC becomes unstable - crashes, errors, the full program)... all other voltages are also unstable... the mobo does not provide enough voltage for 2 x 512 mb (2.5V) RAM - one of the banks, that is (test with MemTest - first bank works ok, the module in the second bank fails, swap modules - same story). there is no control over core or ram voltage - I had to perform a pin mod to force the mobo to raise the voltage to the CPU and will have to buy another board to use my new RAM. no way to measure chipset temperature, no way to measure vram voltage. attempts to overclock a 2600+ T-bred with DDR400 RAM fail at 136 Mhz FSB... that's 2 Mhz gain...). and let's not forget the BIOS chip soldered to the PCB. if I wasn't forced by the circumstances to continue using it I would have thrown the board out at least twice by now. although using a hammer will express my feelings more appropriately... and rest assured - I'm not the only one feeling this way.

    I knew I was buying a value board, but there is a certain minimum of quality that just needs to be there for stable operation. what I got for my money in these cases was an insult.

    in other words - I would rather shoot myself than buy anything with the brand ECS on it ever again.

    no editors day, no money invested in propaganda will ever change that.
  • swatX - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    my first ECS motherboard RS480-M. Crashes every 5 minutes. Couldnt figure anything until i pulled the Audigy 2 sound card. Seems like ECS board doesnt like a sound card. Also their bios doesnt work with XP-64. The temps are extremely high even though i had a good case cooling.

    never getting anything from ecs again .
  • Kalessian - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    "ECS used Editor's Day to highlight all of their new "dual-graphics" motherboards - both AMD and Intel - for NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire."

    Shouldn't it be ATi Crossfire?

  • Wesley Fink - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    Corrected. Reply
  • Bona Fide - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    That SDGE concept is looking great. Can't wait to see what comes of it. :) Reply
  • smn198 - Friday, September 2, 2005 - link

    I think it would be much more interesting (to the enthusiast) is mobo makers would start doing things similar to what was done with the BX chipset. High FSB overclocking, dual slots, etc">Dual slot 1 Intel BX 1 mobo linkage

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