Fusion-Powered: Application and Futuremark Performance

This was my first experience with AMD's E-350 APU, a chip which has been the subject of some contention around here. Jarred and I are basically in agreement where performance is concerned and the general positive impact the chip can have on the mobile market: it's where netbooks probably needed to be all along, and should hopefully supplant Intel's lackluster Atom platform. Where we differ is our enthusiasm for it: Jarred feels Brazos was long overdue and isn't the quantum leap we were hoping for and expecting, which is a perfectly fair assessment. We needed Brazos a while ago, and AMD is late to this party.

That said, I'm happy AMD finally did show up. You'll see the E-350 isn't a massive jump forward from Atom, but it's enough of one to make the netbooking experience finally enjoyable instead of being a sluggish chore. Subjectively speaking, in regular use I found the dm1z to be nearly as responsive as my Lenovo ThinkPad X100e which is equipped with AMD's first generation Congo platform (though upgraded to an Intel X25-V SSD instead of the still-respectable Western Digital Scorpio Black mechanical drive.) So how does the E-350 actually fare when compared to mobile kit?

The first thing you'll notice is that while the E-350 generally cleans Atom's clock (the dual-core nettop D525 only comes out with a slight lead in the 2nd pass x264 encode), it's also generally about two-thirds as fast as the Nile platform's 1.5GHz Turion II K625. That's not too bad, but this is part of what Jarred's talking about, especially when you think about the Intel Core 2-based CULV kit that periodically kicks around the market (becoming stunningly rarefied). CULV hardware has also floated around the price point the dm1z is hitting shelves at, too, but it was fairly inconsistent. On the flipside, it does beat dual-core Atom equipped with NVIDIA's NG-ION, and this is a trend that's going to continue.

In 3DMark the E-350's integrated Radeon HD 6310 generally hangs out in the neighborhood of NG-ION, but it soundly beats Intel's last generation IGP (with better drivers and more stable performance to boot), and embarasses the Nile platform's Radeon HD 4225. That's not too surprising: in terms of raw GPU power the HD 6310 features twice the number of stream processors and a higher core clock.

If anything, the HD 6310 shows just how long in the tooth AMD's current IGP has really gotten: when it debuted as the 780G, it was a revelation, offering the best IGP performance bar none. The problem is that AMD just let it sit, offering new model numbers with no real performance increase outside of adding DirectX 10.1 support and bumping clocks slightly in some cases while serving us a warmed over Radeon HD 4550 in the form of the Radeon HD 5450 when they really should've just been integrating that hardware into their chipsets.

Ah well. With Brazos here now and Llano on the horizon, the era of AMD integrated graphics parts wearing out their welcomes should come to a close.

The Swankiest Netbook You Ever Did See Almost There For Mobile Gaming


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  • Impulses - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    At the same time, this is cheaper than many tablets AND far more powerful and capable than just about any tablet... It may be anemic compared to a full fledged laptop, but you can get a lot more done on this than on a tablet. Frankly I think the market for this kinda system is larger than the market for tablets...

    IMO, the only people spending $500+ on a tablet are A) wealthy B) people who don't need an actual laptop for work/study C) people who have a big desktop replacement laptop and want something lighter to read, etc. It's just a total luxury item for someone that already has a smartphone and also needs a laptop.

    Maybe I'm just blinded by my own usage habits, but I read a lot on my phone, and when I put it down it's because I want an actual keyboard (so I pick up my netbook), or I need an SD card slot or ample storage space, or I need to do stuff only my desktop can do (gaming, video editing/encoding, etc.). So a tablet's value to me would be pretty much limited to the couch, as a replacement for my phone when I'm watching TV, meh.
  • Powerlurker - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Most people, especially if they don't have school-age children, don't use their home computer to do "work". They do their work on an employer provided computer at their place of employment. They use their home computer for general web-browsing/media consumption, email/IM/Skype, and casual gaming. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    Have you heard of Tiny 7? It is a stripped down windows 7 install that fits on one CD. It uses 145MB of RAM. There are many different groups all simultaneously discovering that win7 need not take up much more space or resources than win xp. The UI can be changed pretty easily also. For example, icons can be blown up really big on Windows 7. It is just a matter of getting x86 tablets out there in quantity for cheap. (ie under $200). Once there is a good base of tablets, there would be a whole bunch of hacking and optimizing going on. The only reason it is not happening is because tablet manufacturers are all hellbent on 200%+ markup. There just is no market for $600-$800 tablets, except for dumb yuppies who all bought ipads already. Reply
  • Dex1701 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - link

    No offense, but a comment like that can only come from someone that values a sexy gee-whiz gadget over an actual portable computing device. Tablets are great fun and have their place, but if you actually want to get something done in an acceptable amount of time they don't work. Tablets = low-powered ultra-portable entertainment devices. They're great for some things, but if you want to be productive (even on a personal pursuit such as an artistic hobby) they're extremely limited even compared to a netbook.

    Does it really matter to you that much whether such a device is running MacOS, iOS, Linux, or Windows? Again, a comment like that can only come from someone that's more interested in image than results.
  • Griswold - Wednesday, February 23, 2011 - link

    I think you're late to reality.

    Atom based netbooks were useless for most work tasks. Same with pretty much all tablets. They're recreational devices, you cant do any meaningful work with it.

    This puppy seems to fill the gap just fine.
  • Sabresiberian - Sunday, February 27, 2011 - link

    Tablets are a fad - and talk about anaemic! As soon as people realize how good they look in commercials but how so-so they actually are to use compared to a netbbook or laptop, they'll die out.

    I've said it before - give me a tablet with a hard cover to protect the screen and a decent amount of storage, say 300GB. Oh, wait, that's a laptop, never mind. Or, give me a tablet I can stick in my pocket. Oh, that's a smart phone. I guess I didn't want a tablet computer after all.

    Something about the tablet reminds me of the Etch A Sketch, not sure what . . .

  • helboy - Thursday, March 10, 2011 - link

    well IMO tablets are for ladies and people who dont like to get their hands dirty ;) ... Reply
  • Gigantopithecus - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    Tablets are great for consumption but those of us who produce need a real keyboard, real hard drive, and not to mention, better connectivity than what's offered with the iPad at least.

    I'm waiting for the X120e (love the nipp...err, trackpoint), but I expect its performance will be similar.

    One question, Dustin - is the mini-PCIe slot mSATA enabled? I.e. does it support Intel's Soda Creek SSDs?
  • zepi - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    I believe that vast majority of computer users are consumers. Most people don't actively generate new content, they merely consume it.

    Thus, for most of the people tablet could very well be The Ideal computer.

    I vaguely remember seeing stats that only 10-20% users actively produce content and that the rest of us just read it. I couldn't find it now, but I suppose that Anandtech forums / comments could be used a quick statistics...

    I wonder how much pure readers does Anandtech have in comparison to users who actually participate in creation of the content? Though I suppose Anandtech is not the site whose users portray the Average Joe that accurately.

    For the entire history of computing, computers have been generated by Creators for Creators. Tablet, feature rich home consoles and internet-enabled televisions might just be a start of an era where most devices are based around consuming content, instead of generating it.

    This applies to Jarred's post also. Anandtech Crew is definitely in the subset of creators, which I believe to be a tiny minority of all people.
  • freezervv - Monday, February 21, 2011 - link

    And you don't see anything wrong with converting the majority of people into consumers, rather than creators? Reply

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