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The Price: Around $100, The Motherboard: MSI's E350IA-E45

AMD expects most E-350 motherboards to sell for around $100 in etail. For lightly featured boards, I've heard this estimate is about right. It's once you start adding WiFi, passive cooling and other enhancements that costs creep up to around $130. Even at $130 that's not a bad deal. We're talking about better pricing than most ION boards but with much better performance.

AMD sent over the first Brazos motherboard ready for prime time, MSI's E350IA-E45. The mini-ITX board features two DDR3 DIMM slots (a Brazos feature, there's still only one 64-bit memory channel off of the APU), four 6Gbps SATA ports and a PCIe x16 slot (electrically x4). On the I/O panel MSI provides both VGA and HDMI out for video. For audio you have the options of running audio over HDMI, coax, optical or 1/8" stereo outputs. There are a surprising number of USB ports on the back of the board: 6 x USB 2.0 and 2 x USB 3.0 driven off of the very familiar NEC D7202 USB 3.0 controller. There are two USB 2.0 headers for front panel or case USB as well. There's unfortunately no WiFi support on board, all you get is a single Realtek RTL8111D 10/100/1000 ethernet port.


mini-ITX motherboard (right) and mini-ITX manual (left)

The MSI board doesn't support overclocking, so all results are at the CPU's stock 1.6GHz frequency.

Power is supplied by a standard 24-pin ATX PSU connector (older Atom/ION boards sometimes only used a 20-pin connector) as well as a 4-pin ATX12V connector. The Hudson FCH is passively cooled while the APU features a small, and unfortunately audible fan. ASUS is working on a passively cooled E-350 motherboard which I should have within the next week.

The Motivation and the Introduction Video Decode Capabilities: Is Brazos the New ION?
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  • Scootiep7 - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    The major problem is that Intel's drivers are flat out junk for anything Gaming/HTPC related. With ULV Sandy Bridge, you'll be paying three times as much for a complete system that performs less than half as well on most of the stuff you want to do with it in this market segment. Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Talk about good for a first try.
    Think about it; AMDs first shot into this area is as good or way better than the much updated Atom from intel.

    Anand can you ask when amd thinks they will be able to move this to 32nm? Seems the design is good just needs updated shrinkage to increase the Mhz.

    Also since this will not be in a netbook/laptop can you overlclock???
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    No 32nm Brazos parts, they will come directly with 28nm next year. Yes, 4 bobcat cores, VLIW 4D architecture GPUs, 2x performance at minimum or even higher if AMD gives it Turbo Boost feature.

    Overclocking doesn't make any sense on this chip, because no matter how you overclock it, the chip cannot do the things it can't do at default clock. it simply brings you more power consumption.
    Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Overclock for the desktop not the netbook.

    Could make some items go from unusable to usable as a low power desktop replacement.
    I like to see what would happen and what would help the most or not.
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Try AMD Overdrive Reply
  • knedle - Saturday, January 29, 2011 - link

    You can overclock everything (even a notebook), but since the board didn't support it, it's much harder. ;)
    I'm sure someone will release overclockable boards, it's just the matter of time.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    ...ETA for Brazos mini-ITX availability in retail channels?

    I can't think of a reason to buy anything, be it a netbook or nettop or htpc, with an Atom in it given Brazos's performance and power consumption. Can't wait to start building Brazos systems!
    Reply
  • codedivine - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    I am a little confused. If I put a graphics card in the x16 slot, will it run at x4 PCIe 2.0 speeds or x16 PCIe 2,0 speeds? Reply
  • rpsgc - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    It will run at x4 (comparable to PCI-E 1.1 x8) Reply
  • rpsgc - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Since I can't edit my post...

    ... look here for the performance penalty of running at x4 versus x16
    http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/AMD/HD_5870_PCI...
    Reply

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