The ECS D6VAA Dual-CPU VIA Powered Motherboard
Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun...

By, Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
July 26, 2001

Dual-CPU systems, previously reserved for use as high-end servers, have now become affordable due to the efforts of companies like ECS, Abit, Intel and Via (among others).  With the increased popularity of Windows 2000 and relatively "low" prices of SMP capable CPUs like the Pentium III, running a Dual-CPU rig on you desktop is now a viable option to the true hardware enthusiast or discerning power user.

There is a common misconception when it comes to SMP (Symmetrical Multi-Processing) systems though.  I have been in many situations "talking tech" with associates, and as soon as I mention running dual-CPUs on my main rig someone inevitably says, "That's a waste unless you're running applications that will take advantage of the second CPU."  Well, this simply isn't the case.  Without getting too technical I'd like to explain that while it is true that Multi-threaded applications benefit the most from the second CPU, overall system performance is greatly enhanced because many "background" tasks can be spilt amongst the two processors.  Open up Task Manager and look at all of the programs and processes running in the background on your machine.  Now, think of each of those programs running as a "thread".  If you've got ten programs running, spilt their CPU usage across both processors and you'll see why each program has more CPU horsepower available to it at any given time.  So even without running multi-threaded applications, anyone who multi-tasks will benefit from having the power of a second CPU on tap.  This isn't a 100% technically accurate explanation, but I think you'll get the gist of what I'm saying.

Now that you've got an idea of the benefits an SMP rig brings to the table, let's take a look at a dual Pentium III board from ECS, the D6VAA...

Specifications / Features of the ECS D6VAA
You Gotta Love seeing 2 Sockets!

Click any Image for an Enlarged view...

  • VIA® VT82C694X & VT82C686B Chipset
  • Dual PGA-370 Sockets for dual Pentium® III FC-PGA (Coppermine)
  • Single Celeron™ FC-PGA/PPGA or Cyrix® III processors
  • Three 168-pin DIMMs with SDRAM support (up to 1.5GB)
  • Avance ALC100P Audio Codec on board
  • HPT370 PCI IDE Array Controller with UDMA 100 support (optional)


  • Intel® Celeron™ PPGA processors up to 533MHz / FC-PGA processors up to 800MHz (for single processor only)
  • Intel® FC-PGA Pentium® III processors up to 850MHz(100MHz FSB) and 1GBz(133MHz FSB) (for single or dual processor)
  • Cyrix® III processors up to 700MHz(100MHz FSB) and up to 600MHz(133MHz) (for single processor only)


  • VIA® VT82C694X & VT82C686B
  • Support AGP 2.0 specification (4X)
  • Super I/O - Integrated in VT82C686B
  • System Hardware Monitor: Integrated in VT82C686B
  • HPT370 PCI IDE Array Controller with UDMA 100 support on board (optional)
  • AC97 Audio Codec: Avance ALC100P (RealTek)
  • Compliant with AC97 2.1 specification


  • Three 168-pin DIMM sockets for 3.3V SDRAM (Ready for PC100, PC133)
  • Maximum: 1.5GB
  • Award 2MB Flash EEPROM
  • Supports Plug and Play 1.0A, AMP 1.2, Multi Boot, DMI
  • Full Support for ACPI revision 1.0 specification


  • Supports Plug and Play function
  • PS/2 keyboard and PS/2 mouse connectors
  • Four USB Ports (Two USB Connectors as header on board)
  • One - EPP/ECP mode parallel port
  • Two - 16550 high-speed serial I/O ports
  • Audio Ports (Line-in, out, Mic, CD and game port)
  • Support eight ATA/ATAPI devices (four optional)
  • Standard: Dual PCI IDE interfaces - support four IDE devices (PIO  4, DMA  2, Ultra DMA 66/100)
  • Option: Two independent ATA channels for another four IDE devices (PIO  4, DMA 2, Ultra DMA 66/100)
  • Supports 360K~2.88M Byte, 3 Mode FDDs or LS120
  • ATX Power Supply Connector


  • IrDA header
  • Extra USB Header
  • Extra MIC/Line-out header
  • Green, HDD, Power indicator LED headers
  • Power, CPU and Case Fan headers
  • LAN Card Wake Up / Modem Ring Wake-Up headers
  • VT82C686B included 256 bytes of CMOS SRAM
    With CMOS SRAM hardware clear jumper


  • 5 PCI slots
  • 1 AGP slot
  • 1 CNR slot (Modem only)


The ECS D6VAA comes bundled with the usual accessories...

Inside the box you'll find user's manuals for the motherboard itself and the HighPoint RAID controller, a CD containing chipset drivers and drivers for the on-board sound, a floppy disk containing the RAID controller's drivers, two 80-Wire UDMA/100 IDE cables, a 40-Wire IDE cable and a floppy cable.  The only thing we feel was missing from the bundle was a connector to take advantage of the extra on-board USB header.


Installation of the D6VAA went off without a hitch. Its a standard ATX compliant board, so once it was mounted we were ready to go.  There are some things to consider though.  First, is space...because of the second Socket, the D6VAA is slightly larger than the average single CPU board.  Second, is power...having two CPUs installed requires twice the power.  We'd recommend a good 300 Watt power supply minimum, preferably higher though.  Third, is heat...two CPUs produce double the amount of heat.  Your case should be well ventilated to insure the system does not overheat.  Finally, Operating take advantage of multiple CPUs, you've got to be running an OS capable of SMP, like Windows NT, 2000 or any variation of Linux/Unix.


The BIOS, Layout and Quality