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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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  • tipoo - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Goodbye, crappy Atom. Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Friday, February 04, 2011 - link

    @Anand:

    "Remember that the Atom 330 is a dual-core CPU with SMT (4-threads total) so you’re actually getting 17.2% of four hardware threads used, but 34.4% of two cores."

    Why would you say that, when those 4 threads are actually running on the 2 CPU cores? Or is it that the average for the 4 threads can never exceed 50%? Only in that case your doubling of the number makes sense.
    Reply
  • ClagMaster - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    This is amazing performance for an 18W processor if you really think hard about it.

    This rig will beat my Athlon 1700+/KT266A/DDR-266/GeForce 4200 rig I had six years ago.

    AMD will sell a lot of these Bobcats after the final bugs are worked out.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    No, no it's not. Intel will very soon release 17W ULV Sandy Bridge CPUs.

    Even a current ULV Arrandale CPU will take out a Brazos in terms of CPU performance.
    Reply
  • Kiijibari - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    Hahaha ... attacking tiny Zacate with a Sandy Bridge ... yes it may have triple or quadruple performance, but so will be it's price ^^ Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    yeah and the tray price will be $188 per cpu, in qty's of 1000. Haha good luck with that. Reply
  • djgandy - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    Yes I am looking forward to ULV Sandybridge. I still have a Core Duo CULV which is starting to show its age. I'm sure it is still way faster than Atom and Zacate.

    It may cost more but you'll have 2-3 times the CPU performance with SB. Plus it should have dedicated video decode.
    Reply
  • coconutboy - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    You're only talking about the speed and if that's all you need, of course focus on a much pricier alternative. Now add in power envelope and price which is the entire point of this thing; moderate performance, very low power draw, dirt cheap. AMD nailed all of that.

    Brazos e-350 can be built as a tiny, passively cooled unit that costs a mere $100. If my neighbor asks me to build her a new system (again), this is EXACTLY what she'd want. It'll sit quiet 'n' cool in her living room right next to the TV and cost peanuts.

    Toughest part of building a ~$200-250 Brazos rig will be getting an inexpensive (but not cheaply made), passively cooled PSU and case. RAM prices are barely a concern.
    Reply
  • sebanab - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    "you'll have 2-3 times the CPU performance with SB" -> the things i use notebooks for don't need allot of CPU.
    If you do allot of PI calculations / video encoding / SETI , well , you should get a job. And when you do get a job, you will also understand why a 500$ notebook is better than a 1K$.

    I hope i don't annoy anyone , but Intel really has to pay for the four years of selling Atom saying "it is good enough".
    Reply
  • knedle - Saturday, January 29, 2011 - link

    I have a job and I'm running SETI (now it's called BOINC).
    When I have to make decision - get computer that will give me more SETI points, or computer that will give me more "money saved" points, I go for the money. :D
    Reply

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