In the run-up to Llano's launch, VR-Zone takes a quick tour of our first A75 motherboard, the ECS A75F-A. What features does AMD's newest Fusion Controller Hub have in store for us?
AMD's much-hyped Llano APU has already shipped to OEMs and will be officially launched in a couple of weeks despite a no-show at Computex 2011. Until then, what we have for you is a preview of our first A75 motherboard. The A75-F belongs to ECS' premium "Black" series, but, as you will see, its features are more reminiscient of a mid-range motherboard. This is not so surprising given that Llano will be positioned as a mainstream solution below the enthusiast-oriented Bulldozer.
First, the obligatory box shot:
ECS isn't known for being generous when it comes to accessories, and the A75F-A is no exception. The massive fold-out sheet with step-by-step assembly instructions is a nice (if rather unwieldy) inclusion, though.
The ECS A75F-A sports a familiar black, grey and white (greyscale?) color scheme.
The large backplate typical of AMD sockets is also present.
Socket FM1 has a distinctive blank space in the center, something we haven't seen since Socket 754 days. FM1's mounting bracket appears to have been carried over from AM2/AM3, which is good news for upgraders. ECS has installed a four-phase power delivery system that can handle the most powerful 100W TDP Llano APUs (something we would expect all A75 motherboards to do, anyway).
Gone are the northbridge and southbridge of yesteryear. In their place we have the A75 FCH, which is linked to the APU via a PCIe 2.0 x4 link. The APU has taken over the provision of a PCIe 2.0 x16 link for discrete graphics. These lanes cannot be split, which means that the black-coloured PCIe x16 slot on the A75F-A runs at x4 speed. We couldn't find any mention of CrossFire support in the A75F-A's manual, but such a configuration would hardly be optimal anyway.
The positioning of the PCIe x1 slots leaves something to be desired. We would prefer to see them moved further down to avoid incompatibilities with dual-slot graphics cards.
The specific version of the A75 used on the ECS A75F-A is the Hudson D3, which is the full-fledged model. See this table for a feature comparison with the lesser D2 and D1 versions. Hudson D3 provides a full set of SATA 6Gbps ports, one of which can be found on the rear panel on the ECS A75F-A. Disappointingly, RAID 5 is not supported on any of the A75 versions.
Besides the SATA ports, you can also spot two fan headers in the shot below. These are the only ones other than the CPU fan header, which we thought to be rather stingy of ECS.
The Hudson D3 FCH supports four USB 3 ports natively, two of which can be found on the A75F-A's rear I/O panel. No bracket has been provided for the remaining two ports accessible via header, so you're out of luck unless your casing supports USB 3 (good luck with that!).
Other than a Clear CMOS button, there's nothing out of the ordinary here. In fact, if the rear I/O looks like it's missing something, that's because FireWire support is completely absent from the A75F-A. There are no headers to be found anywhere either (oddly enough, we did find a parallel port header). FireWire's uses are rather limited, but we'd rather keep it around just in case.
That rounds up our preview of the ECS A75F-A. We look forward to bringing you a full review of this motherboard as well as the upcoming Llano APUs.