Asus E35M1-I review
As the only company to produce both desktop processors and dedicated graphics cards, AMD believes itself to be in a unique position to blend the two technologies into a single chip. With Intel combining CPUs and GPUs into its processors for some time now, this may not seem a huge deal but the company does have some big plans.
AMD calls its combined chips APUs (Accelerated Processing Units), and they all fall under the long-touted Fusion branding. These Fusion APUs will eventually be rolled out across the whole AMD range, and appear in laptops, desktops and even high-end workstations. For the initial release, though, the company concentrating on providing an affordable and power efficient platform for netbooks and small form-factor PCs - of which the first example we've seen is this Asus E35M1-I Mini-ITX motherboard.
AMD seem determined that Intel shouldn't be the only ones with a ludicrous naming strategy, though they have taken a different approach. So here we have a Fusion ecosystem product (AMD's term, not ours), which will be marketed to consumers under the AMD Vision brand. More precisely the board falls under the Brazos platform, which includes the Hudson chipset and Zacate APUs, which in this case is a E-series model, that in turn uses Bobcat processing cores and an AMD Radeon HD GPU. Phew.
Cutting all the waffle to one side, the APU used here is an E-350 APU. The processor component runs at 1.6GHz, has dual-cores with 512KB of L2 cache per core and a TDP of 18W. This makes it broadly comparable to Intel's dual-core Atom chips; they have slightly higher clock speeds, but are more power efficient with a TDP of 13W.
Running our benchmarks, the E-350 scored 32 overall, with a particularly good showing in our single-threaded image editing test with a score of 38. By comparison a 1.8GHz Intel Atom D525 scored 28 overall, with its key strength lying in multi-tasking, with a score of 29. The E-350 is a touch quicker then, but there's not much in it. We found it fine for browsing the net and office applications, but you certainly wouldn't want to edit HD video here.
Raw processing power isn't the whole story, however, as AMD are aiming Fusion at a GPU-accelerated future. The integrated 500MHz Radeon HD 6130 GPU is DirectX 11 compatible, and so supports DirectCompute as well as OpenCL. This means it will work with many applications, from the like of CyberLink, Nero and Roxio, providing a significant boost to intensive tasks like video encoding. For comparison, Nvidia's ION 2 platform also supports these standards via Nvidia's CUDA standard, but the current Pinetrail-based Intel Atoms do not, as their GMA 3150 is a DirectX 9 graphics part.
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