Setting Performance Expectations

AMD provided this slide of PCMark Vantage and 3DMark Vantage performance of Brazos compared to its existing mobile platforms (Danube and Nile):

If you look at the PCMark Vantage numbers you'll see that AMD's E-350 provides roughly the same performance as an Athlon V120. That's a single core, 45nm chip running at 2.2GHz with a 512KB L2 cache. Or compared to a dual core processor, it's within striking distance of the Athlon Neo K325 which features two cores running at 1.3GHz and 1MB L2 per core. The GPU performance however tells a very important story. While AMD's previous platforms offered a great deal of CPU performance and an arguably imbalanced amount of GPU performance, Brazos almost does the opposite. You get a slower CPU than most existing mainstream platforms, but a much better GPU.

In the sub-$500 market, you're not going to get much in the way of a discrete GPU. What AMD is hoping for is that you'll be happy enough with Brazos' CPU performance and be sold on its GPU performance and total power consumption. From AMD's standpoint, there's not much expense involved in producing a Zacate/Ontario APU, making Brazos a nice way of capitalizing on mainstream platforms. The 75mm2 die itself is smaller than most discrete GPUs as well as anything Intel is selling into these market segments.


AMD's Zacate APU, 19mm x 19mm package, 413 balls, 75mm^2 die

The Comparison

Brazos, like Atom, will fight a two front war. On the one hand you have the price comparison. The E-350 will be found in notebooks in the $400 - $500 range according to AMD. That puts it up against mainstream notebooks with 2.2GHz Intel Pentium DC and 2.26GHz Core i3-350M processors. Against these platforms, Brazos won't stand a chance as far as CPU performance goes but it should do very well in GPU bound games. I've included results from a 2.2GHz Pentium dual-core part (1MB L2 cache) as well as a simulated Core i3-350M in the mobile IGP comparison.

The other front is, of course, the ultraportable space. Here you'll see the E-350 go head to head with dual-core Atom, Core 2 ULV and Arrandale ULV parts. AMD's CPU performance should be much more competitive here. From this camp we've got the Atom D510 (close enough to the N550) and a simulated Core i3-330UM. The expectations here are better CPU performance than Atom, but lower than Arrandale ULV. GPU performance should easily trump both.

Introduction CPU Performance: Better than Atom, 90% of K8 but Slower than Pentium DC
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  • Jamahl - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Err no.

    http://hothardware.com/articleimages/Item1589/amd-...

    http://www.pcper.com/images/reviews/1039/power-idl...

    It will easily outlast atom and beats it in everything.
    Reply
  • HelToupee - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Your graphs show that it eats less power at idle, but when it's actually doing something, Atom burns less. Of course, we're looking at engineering sample quality hardware from AMD, and fully built, tuned systems from Atom. AMD should be able to get those power figures to come down quite a bit. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    The atom burns less because it doesnt do anything. There is no way to get better power consumption than atom unless you clock the E-350 at 800MHz and hold it there. I suspect that even at that speed, the single core performance would make the system feel faster than the atom, or at least not any slower. Reply
  • Concillian - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    The CPU uses more than an Atom CPU, but the Atom is less integrated and needs more support from the chipset.

    Arguably idle power is more important than full load power for many applications ideal for the Atom. The only load scenario that really matters much is watching a movie. IN a netbook, idle state is more important. In an integrated system like a kiosk, idle is more important, and Brazos clearly leads in idle.

    The power consumption of the entire system at load is not far off from an Atom system at full load. A D525 atom + ION is using more power, but performing worse in all aspects. At this point it comes down to cost as to whether it can compete with an Atom, as it's clear from this article that it doesn't compete well with the "real" CPUs. It has to compete with Atom, because there's no way for it to compete with even CULV Arrandales.
    Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    So this is the sort of performance that the FASTEST Bobcat product offers? Can't say I'm surprised. In many situations it's barely faster than an Atom D510. I think in some cases an Atom D525 would be faster.

    Yes, the Brazos E-350 does very well in some games. However, it also does VERY poorly in other games. Compared to AMD's hype, those are terrible performance results for Dragon Age, Starcraft 2, and Civilization 5. Civ 5 and SC2 are both very popular games, so it's not a good sign that Brazos struggles so badly in those games.

    I totally agree with the Final Words section and what you say there Anand. So really, the only situations where Brazos makes sense is GPU-dependent applications/games.

    A Celeron E absolutely SMOKES Brazos in terms of performance in most situations.

    Yes I would say this product is competitive with Intel's offerings, but it is not class-leading. At 18W TDP for a Brazos platform, that is more power intensive than an Atom platform, and almost as power intensive as a Celeron platform. Intel's i3 products also carry 18W TDP ratings.

    I agree that the success of Brazos will heavily depend on which OEMs pick up this product, and also how they integrate it.

    Once Intel integrates their new Sandy Bridge-level IGP into their low-end products next year, Brazos will look even less appealing.
    Reply
  • wiak - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    thats why amd has LIano up it sleeves Reply
  • Dark_Archonis - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Llano will compete with Sandy Bridge though. Do you really think Llano has a chance? It will have a dated Stars CPU combined with a decent Radeon GPU. Yes the GPU might be better than Sandy Bridge's IGP, but by how much?

    We already know that Llano will lose to Sandy Bridge in CPU performance. It might beat it in GPU performance, but we'll have to see how much of a gap it will be. Also most applications and games are still CPU-dependent. AMD is making a big gamble by having Brazos and Llano be so GPU-dependent.
    Reply
  • smookyolo - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    It'll probably beat SB in power consumption, though... D: -quakes in boots- Reply
  • wiak - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    as far as rumors go, LIano has 400 or 480 shader gpu, aka a HD 5670 discrete, in anandtech preview of sandy bridge, its is just as fast as a 80 shader HD 5450

    add a phenom II based arcitecture then you have a pretty competent mobile gaming system in a mainstream laptop without discrete graphics and way better battery life than with a discrete graphics card

    and there is nextgen bulldozer fusion and bobcat fusion still coming

    btw, do people even need a high performace CPU in a laptop anyway?, i got a laptop here with Athlon II M320 2ghz with a onboard HD 4250 IGP that decodes blu-ray flawlessly in hardware, plays youtube flash h264 video in hardware, fast enught to work with scanned pictures, digitalcamera pictures etc

    and i usely use a quad core gaming rig with a Radeon HD 5870, 4GB memory
    Reply
  • Khato - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    As far as rumors go, Llano has at best a 128 bit, DDR3 1600 memory interface, which would give it 25.6GB/s of memory bandwidth available, aka a radeon 5550 with DDR3. Of course it has to share that bandwidth with the CPU, so actually it'll be far less than that. Not to mention, how many manufacturers would actually give it full speed memory?

    Anyway, I really do quite appreciate the inclusion of the 5450 numbers in this review. It makes it far easier to determine whether the GPU portion is shader or memory bandwidth starved... Though it'd be even better if numbers for an underclocked 5450 were included as well, especially three variations of underclocked (core only, memory only, and then both equal to the 'brazos' tested.) I expect that those numbers would confirm that performance is pretty much memory bandwidth limited. In which case the step from single channel DDR3 1066 at ~8.5GB/s to dual channel DDR3 1600 at ~25.6GB/s would allow for roughly triple the graphics performance.

    Oh, and ya know that the Sandybridge preview really isn't at all indicative of actual performance, right? aka, it stands a good chance of matching a memory bandwidth-bound Llano.
    Reply

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