Conclusion: A Good Product Held Back By Bad Drivers

It's reasonable to suggest that the Logic Supply LGX AG150, given the tasks it was designed to handle, is a successful product. It's designed to draw little power, run quiet and cool, and be as inexpensive to mass produce and sell as possible. While that price tag looks a little bit rough, Logic Supply appears to be willing to offer discounts on orders of multiples, so it's not a done deal. Commercial and industrial applications that just need a low-power x86 box with serial and network connectivity are probably going to find themselves very happy with the LGX AG150.

Where things start to fall apart is the driver situation with Intel's GMA 3650. This single issue is holding back Cedarview from even really reaching basic user experience parity with its predecessor. We're more than four months out from the last driver release from Intel for the GMA 3650, a driver release that doesn't even work anywhere near as well as it should. There's also only one driver for the GMA 3650, and that's for Windows 7 32-bit. This is the kind of box that Linux users should be able to get excited about, but Linux driver support is completely absent. It's at Intel's peril that they ignore that market, because while Joe Average consumers are largely disinterested in Linux, the kinds of users that would be looking at the LGX AG150 may not be.

Ultimately, the Cedar Trail Atom seems to have been unceremoniously dumped on the market while Intel focused the lion's share of their attention on getting Medfield ready to go in smartphones. This isn't a difficult mentality to understand; the smartphone market continues to grow while netbooks and nettops are gradually being eaten away by encroaching competition. What's more, for Windows drivers it's easy to see why Intel might be spending more effort on HD 4000 than GMA 3650. I'm honestly more offended by the fact that a broken product was released to the market, and that it's beginning to seem like Intel is deliberately limiting Atom's performance by refusing to make any changes to the core architecture.

Yes, Atom is slated to go down to 22nm next year and finally get a real update to the CPU architecture; will it be enough for Windows products? Heck, CULV on 22nm with some minor tweaks seems like a no-brainer compared to a rehash of Atom, but CULV even at 22nm wouldn't be fit for smartphone use. And that's the crux of the issue: originally, Atom wasn't integrated enough and small enough to actually make it into retail smartphones; now with Medfield it is, but at the same time that sort of design just isn't fast enough for Windows products.

Where does that leave Cedar Trail? Vendors can only produce kit based on the hardware that's available. The N2600 and N2800 processors are faster on the CPU side than their predecessors thanks to higher clock speeds, and they cost half as much per chip. At sub-768p resolutions it seems like they're not that bad. The problem is that we're at a point where it's not unreasonable to ask for basic functionality at 1080p in Windows 7 from an x86 product, and Intel has left vendors in a tight spot. Do you spend twice as much per chip for last generation kit, or do you release a product with problematic hardware?

If Intel can get the driver situation straightened out with GMA 3650, and I mean straightened out in a major way, then the Logic Supply LGX AG150 (and pretty much all Cedarview-based products) will benefit tremendously. As things stand the LGX AG150 is still a potentially excellent product for its niche uses, but you'll need to know what you're getting into beforehand.

User Experience and Power Consumption
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  • StevoLincolnite - Monday, May 28, 2012 - link

    Sad to see history repeating itself with the Intel Decelerators and drivers.
    Never again will I get a system that uses Intel graphics, AMD and Nvidia you can entrust they will update drivers frequently and gain performance over time...

    Still rocking an Atom 330 + nVidia Ion in my Mini-ITX rig; and other than Brazos... There is really no options available to upgrade it yet even after several years, but the machine does it job.
    Reply
  • zeo - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - link

    Cedar Trail ATOM isn't even using a Intel GPU! The 3600/3650 GMAs are using a Imagination PowerVR GPU! The SGX545 to be precise...

    So it's the 3rd party support that's lousy, and same problem Intel had with the GMA 500, based on the Imagination PowerVR SGX535, a few years ago... but Intel is working on improving the drivers, they're just focused on getting the drivers ready for Windows 8 release and so Windows 7 support has been put on the back burner till then.

    While Imagination has never supported Open Source drivers. So Linux users are on their own.

    However, Intel is going back to their own GPU with the next 22nm Silvermont update.

    While Intel isn't so bad in supporting their own GPU based GMAs, but they've never been known for great performance.

    Though, the HD4000 seems to have reached the okay for entry level mark and the next Haswell update promises to raise graphical performance by another 50%. While the 22nm Silvermont update may be using a GMA based on the HD4000.

    So while they still probably won't be breaking any performance records, they should be providing more respectful performance by the middle of next year.
    Reply
  • ViperV990 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    How are you measuring the power consumption? Does the 17W load figure at the input or output of the PSU? Reply
  • ViperV990 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    s/Does/Is/ :p Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Power is measured at the wall, so PSU efficiency is a factor. If it's a good PSU with 80% or higher efficiency, then the system is using a few watts less actual power. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    "Load temperatures do break the 15-watt TDP that Logic Supply advertises, but only by two watts, certainly still reasonable."

    1st: it should read "power consumption" instead of "temperature".

    2nd: if you're measuring at the wall, at least 1 W is consumed in the PSU, probably a bit more. Including rounding errors this leaves us straight at the 15 W Logic Supply claims for the unit. I guess they were not counting the loss in the PSU.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Thanks, edited for both items. Reply
  • DesertCat - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Not that I'm sure that it will fix the reviewer's problems but Acer has a newer video driver from Intel on their site for their N2600-based netbook (Aspire One AOD-270). I think the reviewer was probably using the 1065 driver that is up on Intel's site (hence the comment about them being 4 months old), but Acer has the 8.14.8.1075. The latter one has a release date of March 20th. Might be worth a shot. Reply
  • funtasticguy - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - link

    Hey, DesertCat, thanks for that tip. My new Gateway LT4004u had the same original 1065 driver. So I went to Acer's website and downloaded the 1075 driver and installed it on my Gateway. Now, finally XBMC Eden runs well (before I had this annoying flickering that rendered XBMC useless). In addition, my 720p and 1080p videos now work 100% perfectly within XBMC. So, Intel has made some progress and I'm a happy camper. It still won't run my PSX1 emulator well and some other games, but I suspect that as Intel updates it's driver again, all my emulators and games should work well.

    By the way, my Gateway has a 10+ battery life. It is also rather speedy and I'm happy with my purchase now -- especially since XBMC works well now and I can use it as a portable media player when I travel out of town.

    Again, thanks for the tip!
    Reply
  • mfed3 - Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - link

    Ridiculously overpriced. I like the form factor for possibly using it as a hypervisor for a pfSense router and Windows Media Center tuner pool but the price tag is just stupid. Reply

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