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ECS Shows Atom Mobo With PCI-e x16 Slot

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 23 comments

During Computex, Elitegroup Computer Systems showcased an Atom motherboard featuring a x16 PCI Express slot.

We know all too well what we get when we pair an Intel Atom CPU with subpar integrated graphics – basically what we have on the majority of netbooks and nettops today – a modest system that’s able to perform light desktop duties but nothing multimedia-heavy.

Nvidia’s also shown us what’s possible when you add some GPU muscle, as we’ve seen with the Ion, which allows Atom-based systems to join into 3D gaming and 1080p video playback.

While we’re seeing Nvidia Ion-based motherboards at Computex, Elitegroup has on display something a little more interesting for those looking to add more than just a GeForce 9400M to their Atoms.

On Hexus are pictures of the ECS 945GCD-M, which as the name suggests, runs on the Intel G945CG + ICH7 with an integrated dual-core Atom N330. It’s all pretty plain until you spy the PCIe x16 slot ready for your GPU upgrading pleasure, giving it graphical possibilities beyond the Nvidia Ion.

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  • 9 Hide
    tixarn1 , June 5, 2009 7:50 PM
    Even if you did put a sick graphics card in, surely the Atom would be a huge bottleneck?
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 5, 2009 7:56 PM
    Can this board take advantage of the GPU like the ION chipset does? Sure the graphics are better, but ION is great because things like HD video decoding are actually accelerated by the GPU. Will this board be able to do the same thing? Or will it rely on the CPU for things like HD video decoding?
  • 3 Hide
    dingumf , June 5, 2009 8:14 PM
    tixarn1Even if you did put a sick graphics card in, surely the Atom would be a huge bottleneck?


    Exactly. This is just stupid.
  • Display all 23 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , June 5, 2009 8:37 PM
    You could always add a cheap 8600GT and be done with it , you could watch whatever you wanted then. but then again... the atom processor might go up in speeds so then you would no longer have a bottle neck.
  • 1 Hide
    ceteras , June 5, 2009 8:44 PM
    dingumfExactly. This is just stupid.

    A sick graphics card? No, just a decent one is needed.

    This is not designed to run games in high-res.
    I'd love to have one such board, for HTPC. The ION is not doing so great in HD, and with this board you've got your options for a GPU accelerated HD playback.
  • 0 Hide
    ceteras , June 5, 2009 9:01 PM
    On a second thought, perhaps there are better options, such as this one:http://www.ecs.com.tw/ECSWebSite/Products/ProductsDetail.aspx?CategoryID=1&TypeID=37&DetailID=676&DetailName=Feature&MenuID=1&LanID=0

    And another thing, other sites say that this board uses a single-core Atom, go google it.
  • 3 Hide
    gwolfman , June 5, 2009 9:09 PM
    You could also use the two pcie slots for RAID controllers and make that a really decent NAS. :) 
  • 1 Hide
    xyzionz , June 5, 2009 9:33 PM
    kinda good for fanless built..even with a passive cooled decent graphic card
  • 0 Hide
    montanabay , June 6, 2009 1:04 AM
    Is the Atom socket upgradeable when next gen comes out? seems like it is always "fused" in below a heat sink...
  • 3 Hide
    apache_lives , June 6, 2009 1:13 AM
    haha i want to see this with a GTX295!
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , June 6, 2009 1:15 AM
    The best use in this case would be to put in a dual dvi graphics card for office use. Stock traders would love it...if they have any customers left :( 
  • 0 Hide
    Tindytim , June 6, 2009 1:55 AM
    Anyone remember the benchmarks Tom's did with the ION, the 9400 causes the atom to be the bottleneck, anything more it's going to benefit much.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , June 6, 2009 2:15 AM
    tixarn1Even if you did put a sick graphics card in, surely the Atom would be a huge bottleneck?


    My 2.8GHz dual core Pentium D bottlenecks a ATI 4670 massively... what the hell would the Atom be like?

    Good idea and all, but the Atom is still a piece of junky old tech. Selling people slower computers is not innovation even if it is more efficient.

    I honestly don't see why nettops/netbooks even cost so much in the first place. At the same price, I'd rather buy an old but superior laptop. It's worse than a 5 year old laptop in my house.

    e7h3rThe best use in this case would be to put in a dual dvi graphics card for office use. Stock traders would love it...if they have any customers left


    Ha. ha. ha...
    NEXT SBM PLZ!
  • 3 Hide
    echdskech , June 6, 2009 3:39 AM
    Am I the only who thinks that a GPU isn't the only thing that would plug into a pcie slot...

    With a raid card in the pcie slot, this board would be perfect for a low power NAS/torrent box that can double as a net top.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 6, 2009 4:22 PM
    tixarn1Even if you did put a sick graphics card in, surely the Atom would be a huge bottleneck?

    Perhaps it would be interesting to see how the Atom DC performs with an ATI Radeon 4650 or so.

    There are a few drawbacks, and that is that the pcie16x controller uses more energy than the intel GMA 940something chipset.
    Also the price of such a setting is not really seen as 'price efficient' anymore.
    The Atom DC actually performs like a 2Ghz processor for multi threaded applications, in which case a Radeon 3400/3600 or 4350 series will be probably overkill.
    But seeing the price of the Radeon 4600 series one can hardly complain about it, and their power efficiency is pretty good too.

    The DualCore Atom may have been a failure, primarily due to the chipset that intel ships with it. But if it had a 40nm chipset, and even faster memory controller, it could very easily break through the title of 'only HDTV capable setup'.

    It's THE processor that should have been introduced when XP was introduced!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , June 6, 2009 4:33 PM
    wwwionbasedcomCan this board take advantage of the GPU like the ION chipset does? Sure the graphics are better, but ION is great because things like HD video decoding are actually accelerated by the GPU. Will this board be able to do the same thing? Or will it rely on the CPU for things like HD video decoding?

    Depends on what videocard you plug into it. A modern ATI card does all the decoding as well.
    These days gaming really depends on the graphics card. Sure a processor is important too, but a single core Atom uses 553Mhz RAM speeds, and the DC atom 667Mhz ramspeed. That's pretty ok! Then add, that the DC Atom actually uses 4 threads in Windows. So it's performance in multi threadded applications will outpace most 2Ghz single core/thread Pentium D's.
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , June 6, 2009 5:10 PM
    actually combining that with a high end hardware raid5 card (pcie4x/8x) and making it into a NAS might make it a powerful and efficient design - all the parity calculations are done through the hardware raid card, a sufficient efficient cpu for the OS, 2 slots for memory (~4gb) may see the best NAS created so far.

    Pitty its ECS - dont trust that one bit for any important use....

    And isnt this going against all specs Intel gave out (limits on the atom's use) ? I thought it was 1 ram slot max + onboard video (no pcie video slot - 16x)???
  • 0 Hide
    axilon , June 6, 2009 6:52 PM
    You can buy the atom cpus by themselves. Nvidia was on a whole warpath about the pricing of the chips a few weeks back.
  • 0 Hide
    goonting , June 6, 2009 11:41 PM
    well maybe a hd 4670 will be fine
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , June 7, 2009 5:59 AM
    I've used so many low-cost boards before (Asrock, ECS, Jetway and Biostar) so far the ECS boards are still working (K7AMA, K7VTA2), the Biostar boards died due to popped capacitors, the Asrock ones - well, all three suffered from the same defect - no power (K7VM3). The Jetway for socket 478 suffered from popped capacitors also.

    Yes, its a poor performer than same chipset motherboards from other manufacturers, but so far they are very reliable, considering they are cheap.
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