AMD Zacate E-350 Processor Performance Preview

Introduction and Specifications

Last week we brought you a detailed overview of AMD's first ever, fully integrated CPU-GPU combination born out of the company's "Fusion" technology initiative.  Dubbed the first ever APU or Accelerated Processing Unit, AMD's claimed goal is to offer a more balance and efficient low power platform for thin and light notebooks and netbooks.  The CPU codename is "Zacate" and the new mobile platform AMD has been developing, is internally referred to as "Brazos".  But we're sure you're not here to read buzz words and code names. The data we shared with you last week was pretty much everything we knew, short of performance metrics.  We know, no fun at all. AMD wanted that information held until today.

However, before we let you run wild with the performance characteristics of AMD's upcoming E-350 Fusion processor, we should torture you a bit longer and delay things just slightly again with a bit of backdrop on the current status of the chip and our test conditions.  We spent time on site at AMD's Austin, Texas campus running tests on first generation AMD Zacate silicon.  Our test machine was far from a production build, but instead consisted of an engineering reference design motherboard.  The performance data you'll see on the following pages is preliminary and based on a version of the chip that has in fact already gone through yet another optimization spin.  Of course, ecosystem hardware and software partners are also bringing the chip up as well, so there should likely be more performance that can be wrung out of the chip prior to its launch. 

That said, AMD obviously felt comfortable enough to give us direct hands-on time with a Brazos system based on their new chip, so what you'll be seeing here we'll estimate to be within perhaps 90 to 95% of the final system's performance and power profile.   

It's not much to look at but we called it home for a day...

AMD Brazo Platform, Ontario and Zacate Processors
Specifications & Features

AMD E-350 Processor - Zacate @ 1.6GHz and it's tiny.

The version of the chip we looked at specifically was the higher-end 18 Watt chip that will be branded as the E-350 Fusion processor. This incarnation of Fusion goodness runs at 1.6GHz.  The 9 Watt version, codenamed Ontario, will be coming to market in Q1 2011.  The E-350 has dual "out of order" X86 cores built on a 40nm process technology, with a total of 1MB of L2 cache (512KB per core).  The chip also supports full X86-64 extensions and sports a 64-bit FPU as well.  On die is also a single channel DDR3 memory controller that is rated up to a 1066MHz interface speed and supports up to two DIMM slots.  Finally of course, is AMD's DX11-capable graphics core; specifically a Radeon HD 6310, which also incorporates AMD's new generation UVD3 video decode block that can be found on the recently launched Radeon HD 6800 family of graphics processors.

Paired with the Hudson IO controller chip, or Southbridge, and a few miscellaneous interface chips for things like Gigabit Ethernet and USB3 and you have essentially our full test platform for this performance preview.  Speaking of which, let's detail all of our test systems for you, next.

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