Logic Supply LGX AG150 Fanless System Review: Cedar Trail or Cedar Trial?by Dustin Sklavos on May 28, 2012 11:30 PM EST
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.