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Final Words

With the settlement done and no DMI license in place, it's clear that there won't be another ION from NVIDIA (at least not based on x86). What Brazos is however is the ION successor that NVIDIA never built. For just over $100 you'll be able to buy a mini-ITX board with an E-350 that's faster than Atom, faster than ION and more feature rich than both. While I don't believe Brazos has enough CPU power under the hood to be a truly high end HTPC, it's easily good enough for a low cost, value HTPC. Popular codecs are well accelerated and with full DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD bitstreaming support Brazos is solid. Flash acceleration is also present although it looks like there are still some kinks that need to be worked out there.

Overall performance is much better than Atom, particularly in single threaded applications. Brazos and the E-350 can make for a very affordable email/web browsing machine, and run those applications much faster than Atom could. As our more complex workloads showed however, the E-350 is limited to the same type of general usage models as Atom (with a bunch of new media and gaming options). You can run heavier apps on the E-350, you'll just be far better off with an Athlon II instead.

The Radeon HD 6310 proves to be a good match for the Bobcat cores in the E-350. There's not much value in adding a faster GPU via the on-board PCIe x4 slot as most games will be at least somewhat CPU bound. The resulting CPU/GPU combination is something that's typically as good as, if not better than Intel's Core i5 661 in games. In some cases the Radeon HD 6310/E-350 combination nips at the heels of Intel's Core i3 2100. Unfortunately in modern titles that's not always enough to have a playable experience, but with older games you should be able to do more with Brazos than you ever could with Atom or even ION for that matter. The CPU/GPU balance in the E-350 is good enough that I feel like Llano could make for a pretty decent value gaming machine.

Just as was the case with Atom, Brazos isn't going make for a very powerful primary PC. Load up the thread count or throw heavier workloads at it and the E-350 doesn't look all that much better than an Atom D510. What it will give you however is better single-threaded performance than Atom and a much better feature set. Brazos makes those secondary or tertiary computers you build much better than they would have been otherwise with Atom. I would like to see more CPU performance out of the platform and I'm not too keen on meeting the single core versions, but viewed through ION glasses Brazos looks good.

For AMD, Brazos has to be exciting. The company finally has a value offering that it doesn't have to discount heavily to sell. Brazos does very well against Atom on absolute performance, die size and price. The E-350 isn't the most powerful Fusion APU we'll meet, but it's a great way to introduce the family.

Heavy Lifting: Performance in Complex Workloads
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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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