Update: Be sure to read our full review of AMD's E-350 here.

Last week I mentioned that I had recently spent some time with AMD down in Austin, TX, benchmarking its upcoming Brazos platform. The Brazos platform is composed of an AMD Zacate or Ontario APU and the Fusion Controller Hub (a South Bridge based on the SB800 series). Brazos systems will run the gamut of mainstream notebook, netbook and nettop segments ranging from $299 to around $500. While AMD let us reveal the fact that we tested Brazos, we weren't allowed to publish numbers last week. Today, we can.

I didn’t have much time with Brazos. The AMD briefing started at 9AM, but AMD wanted to go through some marketing slides and answer questions before letting us at Brazos. Going into this whole thing I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to run everything I wanted to run. You see, the system I had access to wasn’t pre-configured. It had Windows 7 x64 loaded on it, drivers installed and PCMark Vantage - but everything else was up to me. Despite having a 128GB Crucial RealSSD C300, installing a dozen applications and games still took hours on the system. I asked AMD if I could at least begin copying/installing some applications before we started the briefing, they gladly entertained my request.

I brought an SSD full of applications, games and benchmarks that I wanted to run on the Brazos platform. I purposefully avoided any large test suites (PCMark Vantage, SYSMark) because they would eat up a lot of time and I had no idea how long the rest of the benchmarking would take.

The Brazos test platform

I also didn’t run any of our media streaming suite. The Zacate/Ontario APUs feature AMD’s UVD3 engine and should, in theory, have similar media playback features to the Radeon HD 6000 series. Of course once we have final systems it’ll be easier to put this to the test. I was mainly interested in characterizing the CPU and GPU performance of Brazos, the two major unknowns.

I didn’t get into the full swing of testing until just before 11AM, and we had a hard stop at 5PM. That didn’t leave a ton of time, but I believe it left enough to get a good idea for what Brazos will perform like in the real world.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of our coverage, the system felt snappy. I had the 11-inch MacBook Air on hand (it served as my Excel-runner while I benchmarked) and interacting with the OS felt no different between the Brazos system and the 1.6GHz MBA. That being said, the MBA is technically much quicker (and more expensive).

AMD Brazos Lineup
APU Model Number of Bobcat Cores CPU Clock Speed GPU Number of GPU Cores GPU Clock Speed TDP
AMD E-350 2 1.6GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD E-240 1 1.5GHz Radeon HD 6310 80 500MHz 18W
AMD C-50 2 1.0GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W
AMD C-30 1 1.2GHz Radeon HD 6250 80 280MHz 9W

The system I tested had AMD’s E-350 processor, the highest end APU you’ll find on a Brazos. This is the chip you’ll find in $400 nettops and notebooks in the $400 - $500 range. This puts its direct competition as really expensive Atom based netbooks, Pentium dual-core notebooks and low end Core i3 notebooks. While the latter two should easily outperform the E-350 in CPU intensive tasks, the GPU comparison is another story entirely. It’s also worth noting that the E-350 carries an 18W TDP (including graphics). During my testing I measured a maximum total system power consumption of around 30W (including the 1366 x 768 LCD panel) while playing games and around 25W while encoding H.264 on the two Bobcat cores. The system idled around 15W however AMD cautioned me that this number was unnaturally high. Final Brazos systems will be far more power optimized and AMD expects numbers to drop down to as low as 5.6W.

AMD is confident we will see Brazos based systems deliver well beyond 6 hours of battery life. AMD's goal is to deliver Atom like battery life and form factors, with a real GPU and hopefully better than Atom performance. We spent our time in Austin trying to find out if its goals were realistic.

Setting Performance Expectations
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  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    When you mention this:

    In most of our benchmarks the performance advantage over Atom isn't huge, yet using Brazos is much better than using an Atom based machine. It all boils down to one thing: single threaded performance. Atom can make up for its deficiencies by executing a lot of threads in parallel, but when you're bound by the performance of a single thread the E-350 shines. The E-350 is 65% faster than the Atom D510 in the single threaded Cinebench R10 test. It's this performance advantage that makes the E-350 feel so much quicker than Atom.

    and you only post mainly multithreaded apps which are fooled by the HT people off course get a different idea about the final product..... Atom is slow for booting and loading apps, perhaps a real world timing once the final silicon is there and compare the actual timing will give the brazos credit what it needs, afterall its 40nm vs 32nm and first silicon vs 2e revision.

    so in the end not that bad, but AMd needs at least a 1.8-2.0GHZ brazos to compete in the 400-500$ range, that should be easy to get, they don't need more gpu power.

    btw where is the stated 25W brazos amd has up its sleeves for the ultra low end desktop platform. THey can easily use it for notebooks.
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    sorry anandtech, really big fan of your site, always the first site i will read, but this round other sites have done a much better job then your review. Again even your conclusion is totally off then others who are comparing the right platforms against each other....

    pcperspective really shows platforms, power consumption and guess what the results are :)

  • Khato - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Eh, I wouldn't say other sites have done a better job, rather they just present different information. Given the fact that I was primarily interested in GPU performance aspects, the Anandtech review is far more useful far as I'm concerned.

    That said, the direct comparison against a celeron SU2300 ION platform is indeed interesting. A core 2 duo based celeron at 1.2GHz bests the 1.6GHz 'brazos' in CPU performance on all but the MP3 encode benchmark, which could just as easily be due to differences in the SSD used as the CPU. Sure the power numbers are impressive, but that's quite to be expected on a demo system - it'll be interesting to see how much that goes up on actual retail systems. aka, how stripped down and tweaked was the demo system in order to get idle power that low. It's basically equal to the SU2300 + ION on dynamic power according to those numbers.
  • duploxxx - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    they all had the same amount of ram and all had ssd in that review, so it is really comaprable, where this review showed lots of different setups.
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    My goal was to compare to the type of CPUs you'd find in other $400 - $500 notebooks, mainly ~2.2GHz 1MB L2 Conroe/Merom based CPUs and 2.26GHz Arrandale based chips - both of which you'll see in the review.

    I agree we needed to include some ULV results, so this morning I added data from a simulated i3-330UM (1.2GHz) across the board :)

    Take care,
  • khimera2000 - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    intresting... I have to say that I got more out of this review then i did with anand since it uses the profile i would consider buying. I would not consider getting one of these chips for a notebook so the comparison against notebook chips are kinda lost to me.

    I was intrestead to see how much performance VS how much batterylife this new platform has since i already have a powerful desktop, a comprable notebook I dont need to know how fast a notebook is if its not hitting close to the 8 hour battary mark.

    If i where to get one of these it would be for long flights and train rides, it would be for the children in my family, and it would be for the older people who are not as tech enabled. as it stands the questoins i had in mind where not easily answerd by anantech's review.
  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    You've created Atom like performance with a slightly better GPU, way, way too late in the game.

    I thought the Dual core 1GHz and single core 1.2GHz would be more competitive with Atom 1.6, but looking at these results, those are in with no hope at all.

    This is poor.
  • flyck - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    read the reviews..... performance is better in multithreaded applications than Atom525 with HT and single threaded is 60% faster....

    gpu is better than ion which atom needs.

    powerdraw on idle is LOWER than single core Atom and equal for cpu intensive tasks but higher in games.
  • mino - Tuesday, November 16, 2010 - link

    Games which Atom cannot play in the first place.
    Not without Ion which makes the battery life goes boom anyway ...

    Those GPU's are eating electrons like crazy when doing its job. Sneaky beasts, aren't they ? :D
  • Khato - Wednesday, November 17, 2010 - link

    Really? It's power draw on idle is under the 7 watts measured on Anandtech for the single-core atom N450 Asus 1005PE? Maybe it's power consumption under load is lower than the 9.5 watts for that system?

    Yeah, power consumption figures vary wildly from system to system, especially when comparing netbook/notebook type designs to nettop/desktop. It's rather clear that the brazos test platform is a netbook/notebook type design and hence has no business being compared to nettop/desktop designs on power consumption.

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