Applications, Round Two: Treading Water

Futuremark PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark05

Cinebench R10 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R10 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Single-Threaded Benchmark

Cinebench R11.5 - Multi-Threaded Benchmark

x264 HD Benchmark - First Pass

x264 HD Benchmark - Second Pass

This time we have a more interesting competitor to look at: the Toshiba A660D. AMD says Turbo Core works at speeds of up to 2.4GHz on the A8-3500M, but we have no way of monitoring the actual CPU clocks right now. (CPU-Z if you’re wondering shows a constant 1.5GHz, but AMD says that utility doesn’t currently detect the proper clocks.) When we compare performance results between the Llano notebook and the A660D, we definitely see some differences in performance. Some of that may come from the added L2 cache and other architectural tweaks, but Cinebench R10 in particular shows a healthy 17% performance increase, even with a base clock that’s 7% lower. In the multi-threaded Cinebench result, the lead drops to 10%, which correlates well with how we’d expect Turbo Core to work. PCMark Vantage is still heavily influenced by the storage subsystem, and the storage score of 2950 on the A660D versus 3791 on the Llano suggests the Toshiba HDD is a significant bottleneck.

Looking at other laptops and tests where we’re looking purely at CPU performance, suddenly Llano starts to struggle. The Arrandale i5-520M offers 92% higher single-threaded performance in Cinebench R10 and 48% better single-threaded performance in R11.5; multi-threaded performance also goes to Arrandale, with a 23% lead in R10 and 17% lead in R11.5. x264 also gives Arrandale a decent lead, with i5-520M 17% faster in the first pass and 29% faster in the more intense second pass. The overclocked i3-380M in ASUS’ U41JF tells a similar tale—and both of these laptops are running processors from early last year. When we shift to Sandy Bridge, even without looking at the quad-core parts AMD’s CPU performance is tenuous. The i5-2520M is anywhere from 50 to 150 percent faster depending on which test we look at; even if we toss out the older Cinebench R10 single-threaded result of 150%, R11.5 given the 2520M a 94% lead. In general, then, a moderate dual-core Sandy Bridge i5-series processor looks to be at least 30% faster, so quad-core Llano really only competes with Core i3 and its lower, non-Turbo clocks.

None of the results here are particularly surprising; K10.5 even at 32nm is still largely the same performance. AMD has focused this round up upgrades more on reducing power consumption rather than increasing performance, and that’s a perfectly reasonable approach for a mobile CPU. Most of us probably aren’t doing 3D rendering, CAD/CAM, or unassisted video transcoding on our laptops anyway. It would still be great to see AMD offer up an equivalent to Intel’s Quick Sync; they have the better GPU architecture, but a dedicated decoder like Quick Sync can clearly pay dividends. Outside of that one deficit the reality is that Llano is still plenty fast. Slapping an SSD into Llano will make more of a difference than upgrading an HDD-based Llano laptop to Core i5, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive laptop that can do everything most users need, Llano is very appealing.

Application Performance, Round One: PCMark 7 Fusion GPUs: A Long-Awaited Upgrade to IGPs Everywhere


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  • Dustin Sklavos - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I disagree emphatically. Having used Atom-based and E-350-based netbooks (and let's not kid ourselves, the E-350 is a netbook chip), the E-350 machines just feel snappier. I'd never buy an Atom-based computer, but I love the E-350. Reply
  • ppeterka - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Absolutely agree with Dustin... Recently bought an E-350 to replace my wife's painfully struggling Atom n455 netbook. The user experience went through the roof. My wife is happier than ever (and that's a very good thing, and a very good benchmark! :))) )

    She is a "not-professional-but-quite-demanding" user. (20-30 browser tabs, Office, and video streaming at once, Twitter with multiple accounts, and so on). She used to have a C2D T6600 + GeForce 310 (or 210 , don't exactly remember) Toshiba notebook too, but since we acquired the Brazos one, she didn't turn the old one on. Have to sell it now...

    I know, Brazos is weak if compared to anything other than Atom. But magically it manages to absolutely fill its role. Hats off to AMD on that one!
  • Broheim - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    I wouldn't describe your wife as a "quite demanding" user.
    Browser tabs don't take up CPU cycles once loaded (unless the page uses AJAX, and even then a simple http request isn't a daunting task even for a 20 year old processor) and only uses a little bit of memory.
    I'd call MS Office pretty basic computer usage .
    today video decoding is almost always hardware accelerated, so most of the work is offloaded onto the GPU (where E-350 has the upper hand).
    but I digress.

    just look at the benchmarks, there isn't much of a difference between the E-350 and a D525 (or similar) in CPU intensive tasks...
    any percieved "snappiness" on your part is down to other aspects of the system (such as HDD for instance).
  • Iketh - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    are you forgetting single-threaded results? Reply
  • Broheim - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    1 synthetic benchmark... big whoop.

    they are equal in everything else
  • duploxxx - Friday, June 17, 2011 - link

    perhaps actually read some reviews, they all agree on one thing, the system feels much smoother for daily tasks. I am sure you don't have both or used both so have no idea what you are talking about. just launching OS or any application is enough to notice the difference. I owned a n570 so i do know. Reply
  • Broheim - Monday, June 27, 2011 - link

    that is subjective opinion and the only subjective opinion that matters to me is my own. You fail to realize that the perceived user experience is a product of the system as a whole and not just a single component.... Reply
  • sinigami - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    i've only gotten to run two single threaded benchmarks on the E-350, and out of those two, the bench that showed the biggest improvement over the Atom was CPUMark99, by 6% percent, over an N455 in an MSI netbook.

    Granted, i didn't get to run all four of my single-threaded benchmarks on the E350 against the N455, but i will, and soon.
  • maroon1 - Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - link

    Atom N455 is single core.

    There are new and better Atoms like N550
  • sinigami - Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - link

    and, BTW, the N455 even plays 720p MKV. Who would expect any more than that out of a $250 netbook?

    But at the price of the E-350, i do expect more. And by more, i mean more than just ION level graphics that might let you send out 1080p to an external display. I want some significant CPU horsepower.

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