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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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  • GeorgeH - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Yep, they should have definitely said something like "Here's a reasonably adequate product in its niche. Please buy it. Or not. There's lots of good stuff out there." ;)

    At any rate, Fusion is like Centrino - broad market speak for a concept, not any specific product. Trinity (the first Bulldozer+GPU) will be a 'Fusion' product just as much as Ontario, Zacate, and Llano are.
    Reply
  • wickedgtr - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    "When it comes to power consumption however, the E-350 can't be touched. I measured max system power consumption at " ???

    Page three, between the double graphs for x264
    Reply
  • Aone - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Silly to compare E350 with Atom. You should have done C50/C30 comparison with Atom. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Unfortunately all we had access to was the E-350. As soon as there are C-x0 platforms available we'll review em :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • KaarlisK - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Couldn't you have tried to cap the E-350 at 1GHz using Windows' power management settings? Or was Cool'n'Quiet disabled? Reply
  • wongpitu - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    well, I guess it's still early to make a judgement in this product, and I should wait for the final version. But still, when I see it it's no different from atom on cpu power. when my expectation is this brazo at least 50% faster than atom, and this will upper the competition.

    Maybe I will more interest if the fusion is make a good boost on most of application.
    Reply
  • NST - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    in this preview you 're putting E-350 against desktop processors (some of them really old), a dual core Atom and an ''i3-350M''.None of the above is in the same market AMD is targeting with this chip, which is the ultraportable market (11''-13'' screen).D510 has a lower TDP (13W) and i3-530M a much higher one (35W).As you stated, ''This is effectively AMD's answer to Intel's CULV platform, but with better graphics performance''.Please compare E-350 with the i7/i5-XXXUM line of processors,so we can really evaluate the performance of this APU.

    Sincerely,
    NST
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Ask and you shall receive. I just updated the gaming benchmarks with results from a simulated Core i3 330-UM, will be adding the general performance benchmarks as well :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Roland00Address - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    And while I am grateful for the update I was wondering if you could also test a
    1) Celeron Dual Core SU2300 or Pentium Dual Core SU4100 which are based off the Penryn CULV and go for about 450 to 700 online.
    2) Pentium U5400 aka the I3 Derivative with features turned off such as Multithreading since this is the closest priced Arrandale ULV you are going to find that competes with Zacate. Moste U5400 systems go for 580 to 700 online.

    Thank You
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    AMD E-350 gets destroyed by core i3/i5 ULV cpus at the same wattage (18W for CPU/GPU).

    and sandy bridge will make this much worse for AMD in a matter of months.

    gpu performance is really not a concern for the type of products these processors are intended for. intel core i5 ULV IGP is good enough for video/flash-games etc.

    this seems like a total waste.
    Reply

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