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Application Performance, Round One: PCMark 7

If the battery life was a pleasant change of pace, general application unfortunately remains a weak spot for AMD. Remember that Llano uses a tweaked K10.5 architecture for the CPU portion of the core, and while L2 cache per core is doubled relative to the previous generation quad-core Phenom parts, clock speeds and IPC (instructions per clock) still appear much lower than what Intel offers. I had hoped to see Turbo Core come into play here, which makes the comparison with Toshiba’s A660D a good starting point. That notebook has a Phenom II X4 P920 (quad-core 1.6GHz) with HD 5650M graphics, so the Llano A8-3500M has very similar specs.

Before we get to the graphs, let me make a quick note that not all laptops have been tested in all applications/games. Most of the systems have been shipped back to the manufacturer, so our newer benchmarks are going to have omissions (e.g. PCMark 7). In the gaming charts later in the review, we’ll have even more omissions, and many of the slower GPUs/IGPs will only be tested at our “low” settings.

With that out of the way, let’s start our application performance comparison with PCMark7, our only all-inclusive benchmark for laptops right now. We’ve run all of the benchmarks suites in the hopes of providing a better look at overall performance; however, outside of the “Computation” suite all of the tests have a storage element. That means any system with an SSD (like the quad-core SNB unit) will boast a massive advantage over the competition. The Computation suite also has an interesting footnote in that it supports Intel’s Quick Sync for video encoding, which again gives SNB systems a massive performance advantage. You can read more about the specific suites in PCMark 7 in their whitepaper. We’ll also have two results for Llano going forward: one for using the fGPU (6620G) and a second for using the dGPU (6630M).

PCMark 7 - PCMarks

PCMark 7 - Lightweight

PCMark 7 - Productivity

PCMark 7 - Creativity

PCMark 7 - Entertainment

PCMark 7 - Computation

PCMark 7 - Storage

And here’s our first hint that Llano may not be the homerun so many were hoping to see from AMD. All of the SNB laptops are still a healthy step up from Llano in overall PCMarks—the K53E leads by 43%, and systems with quad-core SNB are faster still. Llano might appear to at least surpass the previous generation Arrandale i5-520M in Dell’s E6410, but the storage subsystem in that laptop is a particularly slow 160GB HDD and that skews the results. Then again, the overclocked Arrandale i3-380M in the ASUS U41JF falls short of Llano, so AMD is at the very least competitive with Arrandale.

Since we’re not on a level playing field as far as storage, we won’t comment too much more here, but I do have SSD-based testing complete for four of the notebooks, and once I’ve swapped in an SSD for Llano we’ll have a follow-up article. Let’s move on to application testing round two, where we’ll look at some tests where we eliminate the storage bottleneck.

Battery Life: All Day Computing Applications, Round Two: Treading Water
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  • phantom505 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I went with a K325 in a Toshiba with a Radeon IGP. Nobody I have lent it out to has every complained about it being slow or incapable of doing what they wanted/needed to. I get about 5 hours of battery life consistently. I don't do too much that is CPU intensive but I hear people moan and groan about the E-350 and Atom both when they try to open 50MB+ ppt files. I have no such problems.

    I for one an quite happy to see that AMD is still leading this segment since most users will be quite happy with AMD. I'm finding it more and more that Intel may own the top end, but nobody I know cares in the slightest.
    Reply
  • mino - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    E-350 is generally faster than K325 + IGP. Then than that, I fully agree. Reply
  • ash9 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    In this price range, I think not, besides Open(X) applications will reveal the potential - its up to the application developers now Reply
  • GaMEChld - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    My netbook is a pain to use precisely because of its graphics. It cannot properly play youtube or movie files fluently. Aside from its multi-media problems, I don't try to do ridiculous things on a netbook, so the other components are not much of a factor for me. But if I can't even watch videos properly, then it's trash.

    Luckily, I got that netbook for free, so I'm not that sad about it. I'll probably sell it on eBay and get a Brazos netbook at some point.
    Reply
  • hvakrg - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Yes, they're becoming primary machines, but what exactly do you need the CPU part for in a primary machine today? Let's face it most people use their computer to browse the web, listen to music and watch videos, all of which are either relying on the GPU today or is clearly moving in that direction.

    Intel will have an advantage in the hardcore CPU market probably forever due to them being years ahead of the competition in manufacturing processes, but what advantage does that give them when it comes to selling computers to the end user? Things like battery life and GPU performance is what will be weighted in the future.
    Reply
  • Broheim - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    personally I need it to compile thousands of lines of code sometimes several times a day, if I were to settle for a E-350 I'd die of old age long before I get my masters in computer science.... some of us actually gives our 2600k @ 4.5ghz a run for it's money.

    th G in GPU doesn't stand for General... the GPU can only do a few highly specialized tasks, it's never going to replace and will always rely on the CPU. Unless you're a gamer you benifit much more from a fast CPU than a fast GPU, and even as a gamer you still need a good CPU.

    don't believe me? take a E-350 and do all the things you listed, then strap a HD6990 onto it and try and see if you can tell the difference...
    trust me, you can't.
    Reply
  • ET - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    Compiling code is a minority application, although I did that at a pinch on a 1.2GHz Pentium M, so the E-350 would do as well. Certainly won't use it for my main development machine, I agree.

    Still, as hvakrg said, most users do web browsing, listen to music, watch video. The E-350 would work well enough for that.
    Reply
  • sinigami - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    >most users do web
    >browsing, listen to music,
    >watch video. The E-350
    >would work well enough
    >for that.

    The Atom also works well enough for that, for less money.

    You might be pleasantly surprised to find that current Atom netbooks can play 720p MKVs. For netbook level video, that's "well enough".

    As you said, for anything tougher than that, i wouldn't use it for my "main machine" either.
    Reply
  • ionave - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    Why would you spend $2000 for an intel powered laptop when you can build a desktop to do computations for a quarter of the price at 20x the speed, and get a laptop for $400 to run code on the desktop remotely and use it for lighter tasks? I'm surprised that you are a masters student in computer science, because your lack of logic doesn't reflect it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but why would you compute on the go when you can let the code on a desktop or cluster while the laptop is safely powered down in your backpack?

    Also, I can run Super Mario Galaxy using dolphin (CPU intensive) emulator at full frame rate on my AMD Phenom II X2 BE, and the cores in the A8 are improved versions of Phenom II X4. You really need to get your facts straight, since the CPU is actually VERY good. Go look at the benchmarks and do your research
    Reply
  • Broheim - Thursday, June 16, 2011 - link

    he clearly said primary machine, so before you go around insulting me I'd suggest you learn how to read.
    the 2600K is a desktop CPU you douchebucket, I never said my main machine was a laptop, quite to the contrary.

    what you can and can't do is of no interrest to me, but first off, I never mentioned the A8 I said E-350, again with the failure to read.
    nevertheless...
    K10 is not even a match for Nehalem, and so far behind Sandy bridge it's ridiculous.
    I've seen the benchmarks, I've done my research and concluded that the A8 CPU is far from "VERY" good, have you done yours?
    Reply

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