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Final Words

The Brazos platform really poses the question of what is fast enough from a CPU standpoint. Netbook makers often argued that Atom was fast enough, and honestly they'd be right if Atom wasn't paired with such a heavyweight OS. Running Windows 7, Atom just wasn't fast enough but many made the sacrifice in order to get the form factor and battery life benefits that went along with the platform. The E-350 offers an alternative. You get faster than Atom CPU performance (particularly in single threaded tasks) and a fairly potent GPU. The only issue is that the E-350 doesn't compete against Atom. Most of the time you'll find it up against Pentium or low end Core i3 notebooks.

From a CPU performance standpoint, the E-350 can't compete with either of those CPUs clock for clock. Where AMD has the advantage is in power consumption and GPU performance. This is effectively AMD's answer to Intel's CULV platform, but with better graphics performance.

This is a huge statement from AMD, echoing what Apple has been saying for the past year: while CPU performance matters, GPU performance must scale at least as quickly, if not more to make up for lost time. The only thing we're really lacking are the killer apps (outside of 3D gaming and HD video) to support this mentality today.

The Radeon HD 6310 in the E-350 does very well, despite the memory bandwidth limitations. Its easily faster than Intel's HD Graphics, although some games (e.g. Starcraft 2) are still held back by the performance of AMD's Bobcat cores. Despite being a significant step forward for integrated graphics at this price point, I would be lying if I said I didn't wish it were faster. Ideally I would like to see > 30 fps performance across the board from the E-350.

There's also the GPU compute argument that AMD makes for Fusion, however the GPU compute tests I tried to run on Brazos didn't exactly work. Cyberlink Media Espresso would not use the GPU for encoding and the Civilization V compute shader test wouldn't run either. Both I suspect will be worked out by the time the platform actually ships.

What matters the most with Brazos is what the OEMs do with it. We'll of course get mini-ITX boards to turn into HTPCs, but on the mobile side Brazos needs to be paired with a sleek/well built chassis, good display, fast storage and a large battery to truly be attractive. I am also concerned about the performance of the Ontario based APUs. In many areas the E-350 isn't that much quicker than a dual-core Atom, which makes me wonder how the C-30 and C-50 would do.

Brazos ultimately has the same problem Atom had at its introduction. Compared to similarly priced notebooks based around 2.2GHz Pentium dual-core CPUs or Core i3s, the CPU just isn’t competitive. Unlike Atom however, in GPU bound scenarios the E-350 is actually faster than those two. The only issue, as I mentioned above, is that currently the majority of mainstream applications that are GPU bound are 3D games. Like Atom however, the Brazos platform is also destined for ultra thin formfactors - places a low end Core i3 can’t go. It’s in that comparison that AMD is most successful.

 

Compared to a Core i3-330UM, Brazos offers much better GPU performance and it’s even competitive in CPU dependent games like Starcraft 2. The i3-330UM is still faster CPU bound scenarios though, reinforcing the CPU speed for GPU performance tradeoff that you’re faced with when considering these two.

 

The E-350 delivers 50 - 60% of the multithreaded CPU performance of the Core i3-330UM, and nearly 70% of the single threaded performance. It’s a noticeable gap, but AMD attempts to make up for it by delivering up to twice the GPU performance in games.

 

Then there’s the issue of die size. For years AMD has had to give sell you a larger die at a lower price than Intel in order to remain competitive. The Brazos platform changes that. At 75mm^2, the Zacate die is smaller than just the CPU portion of a Core i3 and it’s less than 40% of the total die area when you include Intel’s HD Graphics. While more CPU performance would be nice to have, this is a good start.

 

AMD is committed to revving the Brazos platform yearly. We’ll obviously see updated graphics next year but I’m hoping for updates to the CPU cores as well. The biggest mistake Intel made with Atom was to be too conservative with its roadmap. AMD has a history of not making the same mistakes as Intel, so hopefully the Brazos roadmap looks good. Now we wait for the notebooks.

Mobile IGP Comparison
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  • flyck - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    don't forget to look to different sites also...

    example:
    http://hothardware.com/Reviews/AMD-Zacate-E350-Pro...

    Totally different picture... power consumption for system is on a whole other level for those systems, advantage to zacate.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    where are going to stop making a total fool out of yourself on every intel - amd based review?

    Anandtech totally lack any decent compare with ULV based solution where the real competition is. yes the atom d525 will be on par performance wise cpu but not gpu unless you combine it with ion2 and yet you will have between 30-60% more powerconsumption, not to mention total platform cost. for initial release E-350 is fine, they just need some higher performing parts which can arrive real soon when the platform matures.

    TDP has nothing to say here even a D510 consumes more then the E-350 and that is rated at 13W....

    http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=1039&type...

    graphics is bad? it is at least playable on this kind of level now - netbooks, something intel can't and most games are even faster then current intel. only on some cpu limited you see brazos going down against i series which is btw a 35W part and higher clock cpu+gpu... wait until you see some ULV compares how low they are.....

    Intel SB will hurt there budget/ASP big time if they need to compete against zacate, by that time you will also see higher rated zacate.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Fact is Brazos still struggles with certain games that require high CPU power.

    I really don't see the point of this product. The GPU is better than Atom products yes, but it's not good enough for a lot of popular games. People will still be disappointed if they buy a Brazos netbook or laptop only to discover it struggles to play a lot of popular games.

    Intel is aiming Atom at really small devices like smartphones. Currently, Brazos power consumption is too high for something like smartphones. So is Atom, but Intel will greatly improve that with upcoming SoC Atom products.

    As for people who want a netbook but don't need gaming, current products on the market are already "good enough".

    Sure maybe Brazos might fit for those that want to watch HD videos on a netbook, but that is a small niche market.
    Reply
  • SandmanWN - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Seems like a bunch of bad assumptions that don't take into account that there will most likely be different CPU speeds for this processor that address your very issues. Its just a review sample. It could indicate the low end of the line or middle or upper. We just don't know yet.

    Given AMD's years of release history. They start low and work their way up the speed spectrum.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    We "don't know"?

    Are you for real?

    The E-350 is AMD's top end Brazos product. Anand has stated this, and so have several other sites. You really think AMD will offer a Brazos platform at launch with higher performance than the E-350?

    All the other Brazos products will perform worse than the E-350 at launch, not better, since this is the top-end Brazos that was tested.
    Reply
  • NullSubroutine - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Who buys a net-book to specifically game? While you can play certain games, at low quality, the purpose of this Fusion system is to have a low power system that can still do what the majority of people BUY netbooks for...internet, email, youtube, etc. All of this is achieved with better performance than the Atom.

    I normally look forward to Anand's reviews as he usually does some of the best, but this article was very disappointing. Testing the system against the higher performing, higher power consumption chips is one thing, its always good to have a reference point. But to compare and base a conclusion against what is not its market or competition point? Utterly disingenuous.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Atom is already "good enough" for internet, email, and youtube. Unless you watch HD videos on a netbook of course. I've used netbooks with Atom for regular tasks like email, internet and the performance is good enough for those tasks.

    But then, I would have to question why even bother watching HD videos on a netbook? That is almost as pointless as gaming on a netbook.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    Atom is junk for any HD content, everyone knows that. You cant even hook it up to a higher res screen or TV due to lack of ports under the intel regime. Its a whole different story with Brazos. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort - all possible.

    So, while this puppy can actually playback HD material, you can even use it to play it back on your TV if you wish. Thats just one of the things that puts it in another league than the Atom platform.

    Next would be the possibility of light GPGPU applications. YYes, AMD had that in mind too when they called it Accelerated Processing Unit.

    But since you seem to be the authority on what everybody could ever want to do with their netbook, all this is irrelevant.

    Get the hell out of here, fanboy.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Updated with Arrandale ULV results :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Griswold - Monday, November 22, 2010 - link

    So many words, so little sense. You should have spared us this load of horseshit. Reply

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