What about Graphics Performance?

If there's a downside to Nile, it's graphics performance. Yes, the HD4225 is better than Intel's old GMA 4500MHD, but that's not the target anymore. The new Intel HD Graphics in Arrandale fixed a lot of flaws, including more attention to drivers and compatibility. AMD still has the edge overall in the driver department, but Intel is now able to run the vast majority of our games without barfing.

In fact, the only compatibility issue we encountered with Intel's HD Graphics is a failure to work with FRAPS in Battlefield: Bad Company 2 in DX10 mode; DX9 mode works, though frankly BFBC2 doesn't belong on any IGP right now. There's also a long delay between loading a mission in DX10 mode that's not present in DX9 on Intel's IGP—about 70 seconds on the M11x R2. Anyway, let's look at the results, starting with the games and wrapping up with 3DMark results for the interested.

Battlefield: Bad Company 2

DiRT 2

Left 4 Dead 2

Mass Effect 2

Stalker: Call of Pripyat

StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty

Sadly, gaming performance is poor at best. Compared to last year's NVIDIA 9400M, the 4225 offers anywhere from about half to two-thirds the performance. The HD 4200 is the same chip with a higher clock (500MHz vs. 380MHz), and it typically outperforms the 4225 by 20 to 30 percent as well. The best-case test for the T235D right now as a gaming option is actually StarCraft II, where the Studio 14z (9400M) and the T235D are basically tied. Our test sequence is a typical Zerg rush against a fortified Terran base, though we have seen much lower frame rates in heavy combat scenarios (i.e. the single-player mission "In Utter Darkness" will often drop into the low teens on many laptops).

Looking at the Intel side of the map doesn't radically alter our perceptions of the HD 4225. In DX9 mode, Intel manages slightly higher performance with Battlefield: Bad Company 2, but none of the IGPs reach anything close to acceptable performance. The remaining games all favor the ATI solution by anywhere from ~25% up to as much as 140%, and at 1366x768 the i7-640UM IGP is incapable of acceptable performance on any of the games we tested. So score one for ATI over Intel with the current graphics solutions, but here's hoping Bobcat, Fusion, and Sandy Bridge can give us integrated graphics that look more like NVIDIA's G 320M instead—or to put it in concrete terms, at least double the number of stream processors/graphics pipelines from the current IGPs.

Futuremark 3DMark Vantage

Futuremark 3DMark06

Futuremark 3DMark05

Futuremark 3DMark03

3DMark doesn't really add anything to the above gaming summary, though Intel's HD Graphics/platform obviously score a lot higher in Vantage than seems reasonable. The old 9400M is up to twice as fast as HD 4225, and that's a 16 core part compared to the new G 320M with 48 cores. Also something to note is that the new HD 4225 does consistently outperform the old HD 3200 in Congo by a sizeable margin, but then 25 to 65 percent faster than "really slow" is still too slow.

AMD Nile: Improving Battery Life Display, Temperatures, and Noise
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  • stmok - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    From page 2: "Unfortunately, if you're looking for a more potent IGP from either company, you'll want to wait for Intel's Sandy Bridge and AMD's Bulldozer architectures."

    => While the mainstream version of "Sandy Bridge" will have an IGP (coming in early 2011); AMD's Bulldozer won't.

    The one's with IGP are AMD's "Ontario" processor (Bobcat cores), and "Llano" processor (K10.5 based, Athlon II-like configuration + Radeon HD 55xx/56xx-based IGP)...These will be the Fusion processors that AMD will bring to the table in late-2010 and early-2011.

    Bulldozer-based Fusion processors are expected to come in 2012.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    Corrected. I said Bobcat in the other places (AFAIK), but I did mistakenly put Bulldozer in there.

    Also worth note is that Bobcat isn't just mobile Bulldozer for a change... it's a real reworking for mobility. In fact, not only is it not like Bulldozer, but it's a pretty major change even from K10.5 and K10. More on this in the near future....
    Reply
  • Roland00 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    There are currently some leaked slides saying NDA until tommorrow, furthermore AMD is one of the participants of Stanford Hot Chips Conference. In the program material for the conference there is this detail for Tuesday August 24

    5:00 - 6:30
    Session 7: New Processor Architectures (Session Chair: Bevan Baas, UC Davis)
    ...
    # AMD "Bulldozer" Core - a new approach to multithreaded compute performance for maximum efficiency and throughput
    Authors: Mike Butler
    Affiliations: AMD
    # AMD's "Bobcat" x86 Core - Small, Efficient and Strong
    Authors: Brad Burgess
    Affiliations: AMD
    http://www.hotchips.org/printableprogram.php
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    You can get our HotChips write-up here, now:
    http://www.anandtech.com/show/3863/amd-discloses-b...
    Reply
  • zshift - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    "The Turion II K625 processor comes clocked at a relatively tame 1.5GHz.... The K625 bumps the clock up to 1.7GHz while the K325 drops to 1.3GHz, making the K625 a good middle-of-the-road choice."

    I believe the second mention of the K625 was supposed to be referring to a different model.
    Reply
  • Roland00 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    K665, 1700 mhz
    K625 , 1500 mhz
    Reply
  • matt b - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    I've been asking for a Nile platform review and Anandtech delievered! I'm glad that your reviewed the k625 too - it seems like the best Nile option, though the K325 1.3 is not much different. It was a good, balanced review. I've seen this one at Office Depot - it's been at $500.00 more than once now. If only Office Depot carried any color other than red.
    Thanks!
    Reply
  • maniac5999 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    The link from graphics to conclusion didn't appear for me, not sure if it was just a firefox hiccup or if it's missing.

    Anyway, good article. What is really interesting is the difference in graphics performance between the HD 3200 and HD 4225. Is there any underlying architectural difference, because with the same number of shaders I'd assume that the 3200 at 500mhz would beat the 4225 at 380mhz.

    While the platform looks nice, i still think 12" is the magical size for an ultraportable. Oh, and if you sent back your U230 and want to get some numbers for it, please message me and I'll be glad to run numbers for you. (I think I run low 40s on average in SC2 with my 3200 turned up to 3300 speeds)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    I missed the page title for the LCD, which messed up the links. That's corrected now.

    As for the HD 3200 and HD 4225, they're very similar but 4200 series uses UVD2 while 3200 is UVD1. 4000 series is also DX10.1 versus DX10 on the 3200. Per clock performance of the 4200 appears to be higher as well, but I don' t know exactly what changed in that area.

    For U230 SC2 numbers, we'd need to send you our test file as well, if we're to keep things apples-to-apples. We did send that one back to MSI, sadly, but I'm not sure if there's much need to retest all the old laptops. We'll be dropping the older stuff from the charts as we move forward and focusing on the newer laptops. Given the pricing and availability, there's not much reason to buy a U230 over the T235D now. I suppose if you want 12", but in that case what you really want is a U230 update with Nile.
    Reply
  • maniac5999 - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 - link

    well, it'd probably be nice to have a better datapoint for the last generation AMD Ultrathin platform than that turd 'Ferrari One' It would also help us determine if the 4225 is really more powerful than the 3200 or if all those games are just handicapped by the slow Ferarri One processor.

    It's completely up to you, If you send the file I'll take out my extra 2gb of RAM and run the benchmark.
    Reply

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