Our Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: There are three high-level areas of performance we can consider when looking back through the benchmark data for AMD's Zacate platform: general CPU performance, graphics/multimedia performance and performance-per-watt. In terms of general CPU performance, this early engineering sample of Zacate proved itself to be faster than a 1.8GHz dual-core Atom processor across the board and in some tests, like our Lame MT audio encoding test, it was significantly faster. On the GPU side of things, Zacate performs a lot like a dual-core Atom system backed up by NVIDIA's Ion 2 chip, only Zacate does this all on a single chip/die and at decidedly lower power consumption at idle and under load. To us, that looks like a hat-trick.
We''ll bring this preview to a close with another reminder that we should call your attention to again. The image below shows you the environment that we tested AMD's new chip in and its reference platform. Obviously, the build you see here is far from retail, though reportedly retail-ready products (notebooks) are not far off and expected to ship this quarter. So, in other words, from here things can only get better for the AMD Brazos mobile platform and their Zacate processor, and they already look really strong.
Coming to a notebook near you soon, only with a lot less real estate...
We'll of course reserve final judgment until we can get full production release notebook product in, based on this new AMD Fusion technology for mobile platforms but to say we're encouraged and even excited would be an understatement. In a target price range of $400 or less and with best-of-class netbook-like power consumption, Zacate puts AMD squarely back in the ultralight computing game versus Intel. What AMD has been able to achieve in single 19mm2 chip package is nothing short of impressive. Zacate has a GPU engine that is capable of the kind of performance that NVIDIA has made a business of empowering Intel Atom processors with for a better over all experience. And it also has a CPU engine that sips power like Atom but with a measurable performance-per-watt advantage over Intel's latest dual core Atom chip.
No matter how you slice it, taking on a combined Intel and NVIDIA solution from a performance standpoint is a tall order in any product segment but to do it successfully and with less power consumption and theoretically lower cost as well, is a proverbial win-win. End users will benefit from this AMD advancement on a lot of levels, not the least of which is raising the competitive bar once again. We'll have more Zacate-based notebook coverage in the months ahead but for now, the question remains what will Intel's next move bring? A Sandy Bridge may be just around the corner but what's next for Atom or CULV offerings remains to be seen.