Setting Performance Expectations

AMD provided this slide of PCMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage performance of Brazos compared to its existing mobile platforms (Danube and Nile):

If you look at the PCMark Vantage numbers you'll see that AMD's E-350 provides roughly the same performance as an Athlon V120. That's a single core, 45nm chip running at 2.2GHz with a 512KB L2 cache. Or compared to a dual core processor, it's within striking distance of the Athlon Neo K325 which features two cores running at 1.3GHz and 1MB L2 per core. The GPU performance however tells a very important story. While AMD's previous platforms offered a great deal of CPU performance and an arguably imbalanced amount of GPU performance, Brazos almost does the opposite. You get a slower CPU than most existing mainstream platforms, but a much better GPU.

In the sub-$500 market, you're not going to get much in the way of a discrete GPU. What AMD is hoping for is that you'll be happy enough with Brazos' CPU performance and be sold on its GPU performance and total power consumption. From AMD's standpoint, there's not much expense involved in producing a Zacate/Ontario APU, making Brazos a nice way of capitalizing on mainstream platforms. The 75mm2 die itself is smaller than most discrete GPUs as well as anything Intel is selling into these market segments.


AMD's Zacate APU, 19mm x 19mm package, 413 balls, 75mm^2 die

The Comparison

Brazos, like Atom, will fight a two front war. On the one hand you have the price comparison. The E-350 will be found in notebooks in the $400 - $500 range according to AMD. That puts it up against mainstream notebooks with 2.2GHz Intel Pentium DC and 2.26GHz Core i3-350M processors. Against these platforms, Brazos won't stand a chance as far as CPU performance goes but it should do very well in GPU bound games. I've included results from a 2.2GHz Pentium dual-core part (1MB L2 cache) as well as a simulated Core i3-350M in the mobile IGP comparison.

The other front is, of course, the ultraportable space. Here you'll see the E-350 go head to head with dual-core Atom, Core 2 ULV and Arrandale ULV parts. AMD's CPU performance should be much more competitive here. From this camp we've got the Atom D510 (close enough to the N550) and a simulated Core i3-330UM. The expectations here are better CPU performance than Atom, but lower than Arrandale ULV. GPU performance should easily trump both.

Introduction CPU Performance: Better than Atom, 90% of K8 but Slower than Pentium DC
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  • ET - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    I'm not saying it's a bad product, and as I said it should draw the OEM's. What it doesn't do is change the kind of products available. It's not significantly faster, doesn't really allow gaming, it's just another entry point that's not bad. It will power yet another bunch of low cost notebooks that can only be used for everyday tasks. At the netbook side it may be a little more convincing, since it saves the need for an extra chip for video, and benchmarks showed a significantly higher javascript speed compared to an Atom, which matters. But still, there's no wow factor about it.

    As a consumer I will certainly prefer an AMD netbook with this chip to an Atom based one, it's just that I was hoping for more. From my point of view, the advantage of such a netbook over Atom+Ion:

    - Lower price
    - Perhaps smoother everyday use (hinted at by the javascript benchmark)
    - No artificial hardware limits, far as I know, so I expect to see a "netbook" with 4GB of RAM (or at least upgradeable to that)
    - If I'd want to try Direct3D development on it (which I did in the past on similar strength hardware), I'll have the full DX11 feature set, even if at very low speed.
    Reply
  • flyck - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    it IS significantly faster. What the benchmarks do not show is single threaded applications. Single threaded is dead slow on Atom. e.g. starting an application/user interfaces all single threaded will feel slugish on Atom and not on Ontario.

    1Ghz Bobcat equals around 1.6GHz Atom cpu in single threaded applications how is that disappointing for a smaller cpu?
    Reply
  • ET - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    > 1Ghz Bobcat equals around 1.6GHz Atom cpu in single threaded applications how is that disappointing for a smaller cpu?

    Because as a consumer I don't care at all whether the CPU is smaller. I care about performance (and I do care to an extent about characteristics like power consumption and heat, but that's a lesser factor). Being given another CPU which performs like an Atom is disappointing. I didn't want another Atom. I was hoping that AMD for once will be able to take the performance crown, and by a significant margin, and I'm disappointed that it couldn't.
    Reply
  • AMDJunkie - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Also, it should play Crysis. And be $100 cheaper. And use sub-1W power. You know what, knock another $100 off that price. Why isn't it free?

    Sometimes, I think the big corporations are just holding back, trying to squeeze a buck out of us enthusiasts. There's no difficulty at all making a chip that does everything at this price range, they just don't want to. :(
    Reply
  • flibbertigibbet - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    I am very disappointed by Anand's choice of systems to benchmark Zacate against. He himself says it is intended to compete in the ultra-portable, high end netbook, nettop, and low end notebook space. That being the case, I think some of the following systems would have made for a better comparison:

    - Atom N550 (with and without Ion2)
    - AMD Nile (K325/K625 + Radeon 4250)
    - Intel 2009 CULV (Celeron SU2300/Pentium SU4100 + Intel G45/ Nvidia Ion)
    - Intel 2010 ULV Arrandale + Intel HD

    I'm happy he included the VIA Nano DC. I hope OEM's come up with sleek, portable machines matched with high-capacity batteries to match Zacate. Can't wait to see more detailed power consumption and battery numbers.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    I focused mainly on making sure we had low end notebook coverage ($400 - $500 notebooks will have a ~2.2GHz Pentium DC or Core i3), however I've been running i3-330UM numbers this morning and just updated the gaming performance charts with them - refresh to see the new comparison :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • trivik12 - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    it would be interesting to compare bobcat with oaktrail platform. That supposedly has very good idle power consumption(supposedly in ARM league) and better load power consumption compared to current solutions.

    I am sure intel will release CULV based on Sandy Bridge if there is big enough competition from bobcat. 18V CULV with SB core will make it interesting for sure.

    Anyway I am glad to see bobcat destroying atom as intel had little intention of making Atom a decent chip. Hopefully this will make intel do something different with oaktrail and medfield.
    Reply
  • antaholics - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    I hope nobody asked this yet, but I noticed that the i3/i5 ULVs were not benchmarked to compare. They're at a slightly higher price bracket ($500-700+), but not something consumers wouldn't consider if they're in the market for a high-end netbook.

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • antaholics - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    and they have similar battery life/TDP as Brazos and Atom, unlike the pentium DC and i3 tested Reply
  • SandmanWN - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    When you buy anything your first metric is money. You don't just arbitrarily decide to consider a higher price bracket. You wouldn't even consider this if you where looking at the 500-700+ price range. Reply

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