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The New ECS ECS Editor's Day: We attended Elitegroup's Editor's Day and have a report on the subjects covered, as well as some spy photos of upcoming products.
Date: August 31, 2005
Manufacturer:
Written By:

The Partners - Intel

After the ECS presentations, their technology partners stepped up to the plate. Dan Snyder, Intels PR Manager, had the enviable position of going first and more or less went over the items already covered at last week's IDF.

Mr. Snyder hit on Intel's performance per watt initiative during his IDF summary which is sure to raise some eyebrows within the enthusiast community. As most of us are aware, current Intel CPUs are generating a boatload of heat, and Intel realizes this is something that must be addressed. If you missed it last week, the push from Intel is to move away somewhat from "GHz and GHz" and focus on the performance based on power consumption. Case in point is the Centrino processor which draws hardly any power (compared to a 3.73 EE), yet performs quite well when compared to higher clocked desktop processors.

While this is a good move from an environmental and system design perspective, it's sure to cause some confusion and backlash within the enthusiast community. There was discussion amongst the editors present that Intel may be downplaying the impact enthusiasts have on the overall market, and some of us were left scratching our heads over that. Mr. Snyder did mention that power users will not be left in the cold, and there will be little to worry about.

Another topic discussed was Intel's Viiv technology. Plenty of information is available , but in a nutshell, Intel is making a big push towards the digital home. Before you look for Viiv supported automated burglar electrocution systems, keep in mind that Viiv is really designed for entertainment. While watching a would-be thief cry for mommy while writhing in pain on your lawn would be fun, the technology will go a long way towards synching media players, playing media files and streaming content around the house much easier.

AMD

AMDs Product Marketing Manager, Vic Bhagat, stepped up next and went over AMD's current technology, demonstrating their current CPU lineup. As most of our readers are already aware, the Athlon FX is solely marketed as a gaming CPU, with the X2 geared towards the multimedia mainstream, Athlon 64 for the mainstream and the Sempron at the value segment. We also got a few slides going over their Dual Core technology and a bit of its development history.

Truth be told, AMD started the afternoon of frustration for some of us as all the information presented is already public. There was little revealed about upcoming products, despite everyone knowing (under NDA) of what was next. Considering everyone invited to the event was already "in-the-know", we expected a little more than PR marketing.

ATI

While some of us were already in "shark-mode" after the AMD presentation, all the sharks were out for Levent Bilgrin, Market Development Manager at ATI. Everyone had Crossfire on their minds, and to be honest, I felt a little bad for him since I think everyone ignored the presentation since even he knew what everyone was thinking about. If the topic of Crossfire could be viewed as bricks, he was the window everyone was tossing them at.

AMD Crossfire
Intel Crossfire
Crossfire in action

Unfortunently, Mr. Bilgrin avoided a lot of the hard questions about the Crossfire platform. All we can tell you is Crossfire is designed to run with all games, without the need for custom profiles. The launch date (the real one) is coming up, and we were asked to wait until we have the final product in our hands before passing judgment. As any in attendance can tell you, ATI had better be ready to deliver.

NVIDIA

To close out the day, George Meyers, Desktop Manager at NVIDIA (not 100% clear as nobody from NVIDIA brought their business cards :P) went over NVIDIA's initiative to put SLI out on the mainstream desktop. Basically, the SLI x8 that was reserved for the high-end have now been pushed to the nForce 4 Ultra space and replaced by SLI x16 released during Quakecon 2005. Good news for those who can't afford the high, high-end, the SLI x8 will essentially be the same boards as what were high-end a month ago. Of course, it will be up to mobo makers to decide what to include at the mainstream price-point, but in terms of features, NVIDIA isn't taking anything away.

The only other new tidbit Mr. Meyers revealed is the new MediaShield. Basically, it's an update to NVIDIA's current storage system and setting up a RAID will be as easy as answering a couple questions and letting the wizard run. The new MediaShield and cheaper SLI pretty much hammered home the "mainstream" approach for their presentation.

Final Words

From a technology standpoint, not much was given away information-wise. All the companies were pretty much guarding their secrets (not hard to do with your direct competitor on the same floor), but the hosts themselves, being ECS, gave us a lot to think about as we all left San Jose on the weekend.

Obviously, the Extreme series of motherboards are going to be something to look forward to as they release newer models. S.D.G.E is an interesting concept and as I mentioned to Adam Chou during the Q&A session, coming from a hardware design background, I understood why ECS is developing the technology, but I'm still personally a bit confused about who it will be for. We're also still on the fence regarding the PF88 and SIMA, but we'll reserve judgment until we can actually benchmark them.

The theme of the whole event was "Welcome to the new ECS." Before the whole event began, I had a bit of time with Joe Chang where he asked me point blank what I thought about ECS. Not being one to dance around the bush, I told him that in general, I saw ECS as an "OEM/Whitebox" type of company. They make solid, albeit unspectacular products compared to some of their competitors.

I did however cautiously state "I saw...", as our recent ECS PF21 Extreme review has shown us that ECS has the know how in building an enthusiast product. I saw Mr. Chou hitting his Pocket PC like crazy recording our feedback on current and future products so it's obvious the "New ECS" is listening to the enthusiast sector.

We'd like to thank ECS, and especially Joanne Lo for organizing the event and inviting yours truly to the festivities. Provided that ECS holds true to their word, we think their competition will want to keep one eye over their shoulder as we move into 2006. More competition in the enthusiast sector means more choices and innovation, something I think is forgotten by many, and that could only be a good thing.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.

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