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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  • Scootiep7 - Friday, January 28, 2011 - link

    The major problem is that Intel's drivers are flat out junk for anything Gaming/HTPC related. With ULV Sandy Bridge, you'll be paying three times as much for a complete system that performs less than half as well on most of the stuff you want to do with it in this market segment. Reply
  • redraider89 - Thursday, May 4, 2017 - link

    Yes, yes it is. Reply
  • redraider89 - Thursday, May 4, 2017 - link

    An unreleased processor can't beat an existing processor. So, yes, yes it is. It's absurd when people think just because they repeat their no's that gives what they are saying more legitimacy. Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Talk about good for a first try.
    Think about it; AMDs first shot into this area is as good or way better than the much updated Atom from intel.

    Anand can you ask when amd thinks they will be able to move this to 32nm? Seems the design is good just needs updated shrinkage to increase the Mhz.

    Also since this will not be in a netbook/laptop can you overlclock???
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    No 32nm Brazos parts, they will come directly with 28nm next year. Yes, 4 bobcat cores, VLIW 4D architecture GPUs, 2x performance at minimum or even higher if AMD gives it Turbo Boost feature.

    Overclocking doesn't make any sense on this chip, because no matter how you overclock it, the chip cannot do the things it can't do at default clock. it simply brings you more power consumption.
    Reply
  • Marlin1975 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Overclock for the desktop not the netbook.

    Could make some items go from unusable to usable as a low power desktop replacement.
    I like to see what would happen and what would help the most or not.
    Reply
  • nitrousoxide - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Try AMD Overdrive Reply
  • knedle - Saturday, January 29, 2011 - link

    You can overclock everything (even a notebook), but since the board didn't support it, it's much harder. ;)
    I'm sure someone will release overclockable boards, it's just the matter of time.
    Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    ...ETA for Brazos mini-ITX availability in retail channels?

    I can't think of a reason to buy anything, be it a netbook or nettop or htpc, with an Atom in it given Brazos's performance and power consumption. Can't wait to start building Brazos systems!
    Reply
  • codedivine - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    I am a little confused. If I put a graphics card in the x16 slot, will it run at x4 PCIe 2.0 speeds or x16 PCIe 2,0 speeds? Reply

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