Heavy Lifting: Performance in Complex Workloads

Brazos is clearly faster than Atom in light workloads, but what about in more complex/heavier applications? Are the Bobcat cores enough to allow E-350 systems to move up in the world or will they still be confined to the web browsing/email usage models of netbooks? I've run the E-350 through our entire Bench suite to find out. If you want the full gamut of results head over to CPU Bench, but I've chosen a few here. I also included performance results from a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 to put things in perspective for users of really old systems.

Adobe Photoshop CS4 - Retouch Artists Speed Test

Photoshop CS4 performance is not half bad on the E-350 compared to other similarly priced platforms. Also impressive is the E-350's performance advantage over the old Pentium 4. Compared to the Athlon II X2 however the E-350 is still noticeably slower.

x264 HD Encode Benchmark - 720p MPEG-2 to x264 Transcode

x264 HD Encode Benchmark - 720p MPEG-2 to x264 Transcode

The standings and performance trends continue in our x264 encode benchmark. I don't expect you to do a lot of video transcoding on the E-350 as it's not much faster than Atom here. VIA's dual-core Nano is a bit quicker but still not enough to make this a viable usage case.

Windows Media Encoder 9 x64 - Advanced Profile Transcode

Windows Media Encoder provides a far lighter workload, but the standings don't change. The E-350 is faster than anything Atom based, faster than the old Pentium 4, but slower than VIA's Nano X2.

Cinebench R10

While I don't expect E-350 users to do any offline 3D rendering work, Cinebench does give us a good characterization of single threaded performance. The problem with Atom is that its single threaded performance isn't nearly as good as its multithreaded performance. In all of the previous benchmarks an Atom D510 is clearly quicker than the old 2.66GHz Pentium 4, but looking at single threaded Cinebench R10 you get a different story entirely. The P4 has nearly twice the single threaded performance of an Atom D510.

The E-350 is still a bit behind the Pentium 4 in single threaded performance, but it's not nearly as bad as Atom. The out-of-order execution engine helps tremendously here. What you get as a result is a system that doesn't really feel slower than a 5 year old PC but has the features of a more modern system.

WinRAR 3.8 Compression - 300MB Archive

Overall the E-350 is clearly faster than Atom ever was at running these heavier workloads. The highly threaded workloads aren't much faster on E-350 vs. Atom thanks to the latter's Hyper Threading , but single threaded performance continues to play an important role and is a huge advantage of AMD's. VIA's simple out-of-order architecture is consistently faster than the E-350, however I don't expect to see widespread adoption or support for VIA's platform (at least compared to AMD's). Compared to the larger out-of-order x86 cores the E-350 is still in a lower performance class, the Athlon II X2 is easily twice as fast as the E-350 in these tests.

Ultimately the same rules that applied to Atom based systems apply to Brazos systems:

1) Swapping to disk is painful so you need enough memory (I'd recommend no less than 2GB for Windows 7, ideally 4GB) and you'll want a fast HDD. My preference is still an SSD, even a low end value drive over even a fast hard drive. Even a low end SSD (e.g. Kingston SSDNow V100) will make a Brazos system feel acceptably fast.

2) Outside of media playback and some gaming, you're still limited in the types of applications and workloads you can run on Brazos. The Brazos platform is great for web browsing/email workloads, but don't try to do too much more with it. The advantage over Atom here is that Brazos just does those things noticeably faster.

Power Consumption: Better than Atom Final Words
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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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