Update: Be sure to read our full review of AMD's E-350 here.

Last week I mentioned that I had recently spent some time with AMD down in Austin, TX, benchmarking its upcoming Brazos platform. The Brazos platform is composed of an AMD Zacate or Ontario APU and the Fusion Controller Hub (a South Bridge based on the SB800 series). Brazos systems will run the gamut of mainstream notebook, netbook and nettop segments ranging from $299 to around $500. While AMD let us reveal the fact that we tested Brazos, we weren't allowed to publish numbers last week. Today, we can.

I didn’t have much time with Brazos. The AMD briefing started at 9AM, but AMD wanted to go through some marketing slides and answer questions before letting us at Brazos. Going into this whole thing I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to run everything I wanted to run. You see, the system I had access to wasn’t pre-configured. It had Windows 7 x64 loaded on it, drivers installed and PCMark Vantage - but everything else was up to me. Despite having a 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300, installing a dozen applications and games still took hours on the system. I asked AMD if I could at least begin copying/installing some applications before we started the briefing, they gladly entertained my request.

I brought an SSD full of applications, games and benchmarks that I wanted to run on the Brazos platform. I purposefully avoided any large test suites (PCMark Vantage, SYSMark) because they would eat up a lot of time and I had no idea how long the rest of the benchmarking would take.


The Brazos test platform

I also didn’t run any of our media streaming suite. The Zacate/Ontario APUs feature AMD’s UVD3 engine and should, in theory, have similar media playback features to the Radeon HD 6000 series. Of course once we have final systems it’ll be easier to put this to the test. I was mainly interested in characterizing the CPU and GPU performance of Brazos, the two major unknowns.

I didn’t get into the full swing of testing until just before 11AM, and we had a hard stop at 5PM. That didn’t leave a ton of time, but I believe it left enough to get a good idea for what Brazos will perform like in the real world.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of our coverage, the system felt snappy. I had the 11-inch MacBook Air on hand (it served as my Excel-runner while I benchmarked) and interacting with the OS felt no different between the Brazos system and the 1.6GHz MBA. That being said, the MBA is technically much quicker (and more expensive).

AMD Brazos Lineup
APU Model Number of Bobcat Cores CPU Clock Speed GPU Number of GPU Cores GPU Clock Speed TDP
AMD E-350 2 1.6GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD E-240 1 1.5GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD C-50 2 1.0GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W
AMD C-30 1 1.2GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W

The system I tested had AMD’s E-350 processor, the highest end APU you’ll find on a Brazos. This is the chip you’ll find in $400 nettops and notebooks in the $400 - $500 range. This puts its direct competition as really expensive Atom based netbooks, Pentium dual-core notebooks and low end Core i3 notebooks. While the latter two should easily outperform the E-350 in CPU intensive tasks, the GPU comparison is another story entirely. It’s also worth noting that the E-350 carries an 18W TDP (including graphics). During my testing I measured a maximum total system power consumption of around 30W (including the 1366 x 768 LCD panel) while playing games and around 25W while encoding H.264 on the two Bobcat cores. The system idled around 15W however AMD cautioned me that this number was unnaturally high. Final Brazos systems will be far more power optimized and AMD expects numbers to drop down to as low as 5.6W.

AMD is confident we will see Brazos based systems deliver well beyond 6 hours of battery life. AMD's goal is to deliver Atom like battery life and form factors, with a real GPU and hopefully better than Atom performance. We spent our time in Austin trying to find out if its goals were realistic.

Setting Performance Expectations
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  • sinigami - Friday, November 19, 2010 - link

    sure, they run at different frequencies, and if you could turn up the clock speed of zacate's GPU, then it might be the champ. But as it stands now, in the real world, according to anand, there is NO zacate GPU that can run that fast. Regardless of wishful thinking, the best Zacate only won one test, out of three, against intel's GPU.

    Can ANYONE (besides AMD's propaganda demo) show ANY more benchmarks where Zacate or Ontario or Brazos can beat Intel's Clarkdale integrated on-chip graphics?
    Reply
  • texasti89 - Sunday, November 21, 2010 - link

    The CPU performance of this product line is way below what i expected from AMD and the hype around it's architecture. Brad Burgess and his team should go back to the white board and refine their way of tackling the given performance/power constraints without sacrificing this huge CPU performance. Bobcat is OoO arch. even though it can handle 2 threads as opposed to 4 threads in Atom, it should give a marginal advantage. 18 w is still not a tight constraint to justify the poor performance I see in this overview.

    I'm really disappointed. Many architectural details of this processor will be similar in the Bulldozer design. I hope the latter won't carry the same degree of failure.

    I totally agree with some inputs here .. what's the point of having a discrete-class graphics perofmrance in a machine that barely faster than the crappy Atom-based counterparts??
    Reply
  • sinigami - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    >>> "what's the point of having a discrete-class graphics performance in a machine that's barely faster than the crappy Atom-based counterparts??"

    and of course AMD is hyping the graphics performance too: i keep hearing that it's faster than the integrated graphics on an Intel Core i5 661, yet there is no evidence of that.

    do not fall for the propaganda: the GPU part is NOT stronger than the current integrated crap from Intel, or nVidia's ION, or even AMD's Radeon HD 4290 integrated graphics.
    Reply
  • texasti89 - Tuesday, November 23, 2010 - link

    IMO, AMD has the full capacity to deliver the competitive GPU performance level they want. Their graphics division is doing extraordinary job, and I don't think intel will EVER be able to catch AMD in the graphics part.

    What i'm really worried about, for the sake of our interests (the customers), is the terrible progress this company has made in the CPU development since 2005 compared to the giant chip. After the uter failure of Intel's Larrabee project, AMD now becomes the only entity in the world that has x86 license and the necessary technology to fuse high class GPUs and x86 processors into heterogeneous cores with overall performance never seen before. It's really sad to see how the outcome of "Fusion" starts out this way. I hope the upcoming products live up to the hype of this very promising project.

    From marketing point of view, Brazo platform will take some attention only if it's "dirt cheap" .. I don't like this path AMD been taking last few years in the CPUs.
    Reply
  • Mishera - Friday, December 17, 2010 - link

    Anand, I believe you forgot Amd's predecessor in this market in the neo and 750 combination. I think this is where Amd is positioning their Zadcate chips. Could you add this combination in you next benchmarks? Reply
  • phillipguy - Monday, April 25, 2011 - link

    I know this is an older post but I was thinking of buying the Sony VAIO VPC-YB13KX/S 11.6-Inch Laptop.
    From what I read I believe this AMD E-350 has better performance than my Atom 330 on my Asus Eee PC 1201N. (Correct me if I'm wrong)

    My question is does the AMD E-350 have AMD-V support?
    I ask because I will be running Ubuntu Linux as my operating system but I'll also like to run Mac OSX Server in a Virtual Machine (virtual box) however it requires hardware virtualization.
    (Sorry if you mentioned this in your post however it's a really long and I understand about 20% of it all) LOL

    THANK YOU!!
    Reply
  • zero13th - Tuesday, May 10, 2011 - link

    yes, it support amd-v Reply

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