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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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  • 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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