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Efficiency: Core 2 Nukes Atom On The Desktop

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Anonymous
November 21, 2008 7:50:04 AM

Atom is geared for low-cost, low-power netbooks and nettops, while the device is a poor choice for desktop PC applications. We show you why Core 2 is better, and give some guidance on how to pick the best power supply for your low-power application.

Efficiency: Core 2 Nukes Atom On The Desktop : Read more
November 21, 2008 8:44:54 AM

Thanks for the write up. I wish you actually compared the Atom to cheaper AMD CPUs like the 4850e instead of the core 2 though.
November 21, 2008 9:02:26 AM

quick follow up from the article on Efficient Motherboards which i mentioned that the power supply matters more than the motherboard for power efficiency.
what's good in low power supplies is not really the efficiency, but they're lower in price and is usually less noisy. so indeed,you're right about to match the powersupply to the usual activity of the computer.

the existence of an atom is not about power efficiency but lower die space then lower costs. as you see, the core2duo is almost 4 times the die space of the atom which reflects the three times performance advantage. also, i predict the atom will be more efficient at 0.8-1 GHz since the 1.6Ghz default speed is pretty high for this small chip.

so, an atom system it is for NAS/server requirements. :) 
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November 21, 2008 9:23:44 AM

The article states that the e7200 has a 800mhz fsb? shouldnt it be 1066mhz?
November 21, 2008 9:27:55 AM

chouffThey kind of did, here: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] 038-5.html


Thats hardly a equal comparison... The AMD system was in no way build for power efficiency as it had a 4670 GPU.

I want to see a fair representation of how well AMD holds up in the Power vs Performance discussion. Considering that you can get a MOBO + a 4850e for the price of a E7200, I would like to see how the two would compare when it comes to efficiency. Its also pretty unfair assessment of the atom vs a dual core processor, they really should have obtained a 330 for a more accurate assessment.

Also, when will we be seeing a write-up on a variety of >400watt PSUs?
November 21, 2008 10:35:07 AM

Absolutely. If I want an efficient system I will take a 4850e + 780G-Board. It will still need more power but it will be usable in every day life without limitations.
November 21, 2008 11:19:04 AM

What Intel needs to do is create a new chipset specifically for Atom. The Chipset uses up most of the power.
November 21, 2008 11:27:10 AM

Intel's Chipsets overall need a examination from a power point of view.
I think they are still on the 65nm process?
November 21, 2008 11:39:48 AM

Great article; I always knew nettop is a fad. It is too bad that sub 350w PSU is very difficult to find.
November 21, 2008 11:50:15 AM

I don't understand why you didn't underclock/undervolt the C2D processor (and atom too). That would have been very meaningful data.
November 21, 2008 12:24:16 PM

The results are not all that surprising; in terms of power efficiency, the Atom setup is already "crippled" by the 945GC. It would be nice to do a rerun once Poulsbo mini-ITX motherboards are out. There are already some available, but they are not quite mainstream yet.

I'm pretty sure the Core 2 will still beat out Atom+Poulsbo for more processor-intensive applications, but I'd like to see how the significantly lower idle power for Poulsbo will affect things.
November 21, 2008 1:29:00 PM

An ok writeup. Pretty interesting. However it seems like the article was just thrown together without much thought of the content - the scope is so extremely limited. 2 CPUs? common.. You can do better than that. This seems to be the case with most of their recent articles and it seems like these articles are just there for the sake of being there.

What happened to AMD CPUs? And it would be interesting to see how the E7200 performed undervolted and underclocked. Seeing how close its idle power is to the Atom, it might even take up less power.
November 21, 2008 1:48:44 PM

Just wondering.
I have a 4 year old Pentium M @ 1400 Mhz.
Seems plenty fast enough - can even play Oblivion on low settings. This makes me wonder if the Atom is fully capable of everyting except for media recoding, high-end games, etc.
The Pentium M would have been a better comparison since everyone knows the C2D is whole lot faster, etc. blah blah
November 21, 2008 2:33:22 PM

great article. i wonder what the e7200 would perform like in a mini-itx board power-wise. there are 6 available(3 different types of chipsets) on newegg that will support it. that would probably also be a more even comparison with the atom.
Anonymous
November 21, 2008 2:39:13 PM

Hi,

i really wish for this kind of comparison, you include the intel Pentium-M & Pentium-III M for comparison.

I have an intel Pentium-M, and I wish I know if I upgrade to intel atom would it be faster or slower.
November 21, 2008 2:49:22 PM

Pretty interesting, but the point of the Atom isn't to give the most performance per watt. It's about providing "good enough" performance for stuff like browsing the Internet, at the targeted power draw. If you plan on doing rendering, gaming, converting video etc., a low-end Core 2 is a better choice. Also current Atom chipsets draw much more than the CPU itself which kind of defeats the purpose of the Atom on the desktop (mini-ITX). This will improve once Atom gets its own memory controller, possibly integrated GPU core, and Intel comes out with more efficient chipsets. Finally the cheapest Atom CPU costs $29, quite a bit cheaper than any Core 2 CPU.
November 21, 2008 2:54:52 PM

nihilityI don't understand why you didn't underclock/undervolt the C2D processor (and atom too). That would have been very meaningful data.


I fully agree. In my experience, C2D processors easily undervolt a fair bit. Set the C2D to a 800MHz bus, and look out. I wonder how close the e7200 or the lower L2 cache E5200 underclocked and undervolted could get to passive cooling. Furthermore, while I understand the desire for an apples to apples comparison, testing the e7200 with a lower power modern chipset would have been nice. There is no real need to hamper it with an older inefficient platform if the goal is to show that a C2D system can be more efficient in low wattage situations than an Atom based one.
November 21, 2008 3:16:17 PM

The point of Atom isn't just low power requirements. It's about small die size in order to be used for netbooks. Try to fit a celeron in one...

I believe the desktop versions of Atom aren't really useful. As this article proves using a low end ordinary desktop cpu can do more for the same power draw.

Since i have a quite powerful desktop pc, but i need some portability too, i chose an Acer Aspire One. I really love it! It can do much more than browsing the net. I use it for developing in Visual Studio 2008, i use Office 2007, i even play games like Star Wars KOTOR with it. Atom may not be similar in performance to Core 2, but it is perfect for netbooks and provides more than enough power for the average user.

But frankly there is no point in bying an Atom for a desktop pc.
November 21, 2008 3:21:33 PM

Shadow703793What Intel needs to do is create a new chipset specifically for Atom. The Chipset uses up most of the power.

I think they are including an IMC on the next version.. That should reduce power consumption to the platform significantly.
November 21, 2008 3:26:44 PM

Love the comparison...

I have some follow up questions that the board may be able to answer:
1) Since system power maxed at
November 21, 2008 3:45:01 PM

tsponholzLove the comparison...I have some follow up questions that the board may be able to answer:1) Since system power maxed at

hmmm... apparently my whole comment didn't take...

Questions:
1) Since system power maxed out at less-then 60W, could a lower requirement PSU be used effectively? I've seen very small form factor PSU's like these and was wondering if they would be of use.

2) Could the C2D be set up to run on a fanless cooler?

3) How much more power would a G45 or 780G mini-atx set-up pull?

I want to squeeze a quite, low-power unit into this. I was thinking of Atom or Via Nano set-up, but they just aren't going to be able to do the video duties I want (especially HD).

November 21, 2008 4:47:13 PM

Just goes to show what incredible processors the Wolfdale Penryns are.

The next-gen Atom will probably a smaller cache 32nm Wolfie.
November 21, 2008 4:48:48 PM

MoreomoreHi,i really wish for this kind of comparison, you include the intel Pentium-M & Pentium-III M for comparison.I have an intel Pentium-M, and I wish I know if I upgrade to intel atom would it be faster or slower.


http://www.mydigitallife.info/2008/03/08/intel-atom-ini...

Pentium M to Intel Atom. Looks more like downgrade to me.
Anonymous
November 21, 2008 5:31:06 PM

i see this is a good cpu , cost vs performance , it can be good for schools or home users

in some countries if this can run XP , or linux (specially) and comes in a low cost motherboard , the price and the performance almost quarter/half of the core 2 , which make atom a good option , but not sure about motherboards

in some countries , P4 is still a good option , and AMD low cost processors taking a big market share there , if intel want to be number one in the world , intel should show better low cost processors , or AMD going to take that part of the world that currently receiving funds from europe/other countries to develop and get more into the digital world

thank you for the review and benchmarks ..
November 21, 2008 6:41:37 PM

2 questions:
a) Why aint anyone interested in S3 hybernation instead of runing IDLE. This could reduce effect from 28+ watt to maybe less than 5 watt, using af low power and high efficiet PSU.
b) Why does no-one underclock the G31 to reduce IDLE effect.
Anonymous
November 21, 2008 8:30:50 PM

Personally I'm very disappointed with the Atom. Intel should have kept and promoted the old Pentium-M series. Some of the the ultra low voltage ones approached 5 watts TDP (Check Wikipedia for info). After a lot of tweaking I can even play extreme quality H.264 720p videos on my laptop, something that an Atom would probably die on.
November 21, 2008 8:33:19 PM

i've always said Atom is poop. there are better offerings out there from both Via and AMD.
Anonymous
November 21, 2008 8:46:07 PM

"The point of Atom isn't just low power requirements. It's about small die size in order to be used for netbooks. Try to fit a celeron in one..."

Maybe you didn't know, but the first eeePC's used Celerons, severely underclocked, but Celerons none the less. Physical size isn't really all that important, as the processor package is always huge in comparison to the die. In fact since netbooks started using the Atom processor they've actually gotten larger, heavier, and in some cases use even more power than the original eeePC.
November 21, 2008 10:18:49 PM

Forgive me if this is a stupid question but why not use an E5200? It has 2MB of L2 cache and an 800Mhz FSB only. It's also ~33mhz slower overall but wouldn't that save on power as well or are the power differences minimal because the final clockspeed is so close?

I would imagine that performance between the two processors would be close but the price difference is around $37(according to newegg)which is significant unless we just don't care about price.
Anonymous
November 21, 2008 11:18:38 PM

I have seen an AOpen XC Mini PC based on low power 2 GHz Core 2 Duo mobile CPUs and Intel 945, 965 mobile chipsets here at Kwang Hwa Market in Taiwan that is much better than any Atom based desktop unit. It measures roughly 16.5cmx16.5cm and is 5 cm high, includes all the necessary port connections and an internal slim DVD burner. It is much smaller than the Eee box, etc. and I am sure this system could best the atom for power efficiency, power consumption and still provide superior performance. Atom desktops are just gouging the unsuspecting consumer with underpowered hardware and limited upgrade options.
November 22, 2008 12:21:00 AM

zodiacfmlquick follow up from the article on Efficient Motherboards which i mentioned that the power supply matters more than the motherboard for power efficiency.what's good in low power supplies is not really the efficiency, but they're lower in price and is usually less noisy. so indeed,you're right about to match the powersupply to the usual activity of the computer.the existence of an atom is not about power efficiency but lower die space then lower costs. as you see, the core2duo is almost 4 times the die space of the atom which reflects the three times performance advantage. also, i predict the atom will be more efficient at 0.8-1 GHz since the 1.6Ghz default speed is pretty high for this small chip.so, an atom system it is for NAS/server requirements.

Well said.

Also, the idle comparison should not be excluded from the tests because, let's face it, people with atom CPU's in systems aren't going to be doing the cpu-intensive tasks that are "expensive" for the CPU. Which completely changes things.
November 22, 2008 2:15:55 AM

Those Atoms have zero power! I stuck one between my glutes, clenched, and it snapped like a toothpick. I stuck AMD in there and it would not break.
November 22, 2008 2:23:13 AM

chaohsiangchenhttp://www.mydigitallife.info/2008 [...] l-release/Pentium M to Intel Atom. Looks more like downgrade to me.

Yep, looks like a downgrade.
November 22, 2008 2:25:13 AM

A better comparison would be with dual-core Atom 300 CPU, for example using the Intel D945GCLF2 Mini-ITX motherboard.

Also with a TDP of 22W the 945GC chipset is not exactly power efficient
I'd be interested in seeing how the SiSM671/968/307DV chipset (used in the new DELL OptiPlex FX160 thin PC) compares in terms of efficiency...
November 22, 2008 2:47:22 AM

don't know with you guys, but i'm seeing a mini-itx motherboard with a built-in atom around $60. nothing can beat that if you buy a processor and motherboard separately. though, i'd only use that as a server and NAS, also an additional computer for less tech people in home.
November 22, 2008 6:15:41 AM

As much as you think Atom sucks, they're selling like hotcakes.
November 22, 2008 7:56:52 AM

"Maybe you didn't know, but the first eeePC's used Celerons, severely underclocked, but Celerons none the less. Physical size isn't really all that important, as the processor package is always huge in comparison to the die. In fact since netbooks started using the Atom processor they've actually gotten larger, heavier, and in some cases use even more power than the original eeePC."

What you say shows much ignorance i believe...

The celeron M used in early EeePcs was so underclocked that it performed similarly to Atom. You couldn't possibly fit a Celeron M clocked at stock speeds in a Netbook. Think about the heat, not only power consuption.. And if you need to underclock the celeron, why not just use an Atom which costs less?

And also netbooks are getting heavier and more power hungry because of the other improvements, not of the Atom...

Do not be so quick to say Atom sucks btw. Intel engineers i believe know better than the average user. They wouldn't make the Atom if there wasn't a use for it. You believe Atom sucks, then why not go to Intel and get a job from them? It's one thing to say Atom isn't of much use for a particular application, and another than it sucks entirely... As randomizer said "they're selling like hotcakes"
November 22, 2008 8:15:14 AM

randomizerAs much as you think Atom sucks, they're selling like hotcakes.

"Normal" people don't follow PC trends as closely as THG readers. I think the builders are buying them and like them more than end users.
But I think most on this post agree the Atom will be much more attactive (and more capable) for the in-crowd once the 2nd generation Atom is out and it fits in the system-on-a-chip.
2-cents.
November 22, 2008 9:20:05 AM

I guess I don't get the point of buying a Netbook with Atom (yet) OR this write up...

Yawn?!!
November 22, 2008 9:21:23 AM

Quote:
Let’s get back to the key issue: does Atom make any sense for desktop-like PCs? It does, but only if you have to be very conservative on cost, and only if your requirements are clearly defined. Atom-based nettops or budget PC solutions are very affordable, but they don’t perform really well and you hardly have any upgrade possibilities. If you can afford spending $100 more for the motherboard and a decent processor, you’ll get a solution that offers similar idle power, but much better performance and efficiency, along with upgrade options.


Tell me something I didn't know. THAT was your conclusion? Brilliant! /sarcasm.
Anonymous
November 23, 2008 4:41:34 AM


Hi all,

I wonder if THG user here have an atom netbook. My sister bought Acer Netbook, and when I skype with her, I can see her but she can't see me.

My sister also tried to video skype with her friend, and she can't see her friend, but her friend can see her.

Another friend of mine who bought a Kojinsa netbook also said that when he tried video-chat with a friend on msn, same thing happend, he can send the video stream, but he can't see the video stream.

Is atom un-powerfull enough to use for video chat? or the integrated video card so lame? Anyone else here can conform this?

November 23, 2008 5:46:01 AM

Most THG readers are enthusiasts and can't tolerate the Atom performance.
However, from what I know about PCs in general, the Atom should be plenty powerful enough for Skpye and MSN video chat - in Windows XP and Vista (more so for Linux). That has more to do with the integrated video chip - which also sucks, but the video chat is not so demanding and this should not be a problem as well. So, I will look more closely to Skype & camera configurations and drivers.
I will personally never buy an Atom until the system on a chip is finished and the Atom is in MID form factor.
Anonymous
November 23, 2008 9:21:47 AM

Hi enewmen,

Skype does have a minimum requirement of 1GHz CPU. but not all the CPU were created equal. I was wondering if Atom CPU were powerfull enough to do the video chat.

A friend of mine, who also bought the Atom notebook, just told me that he can see a youtube broadcast, but it's a bit choopy.

Therefore, I was wondering, if sending a video and receiving the video at the same time were beyond atom power? Or it's the fault of the video card (GMA950). I know that some other manufacture, like Asus, and Fujitsu. Have a atom N270 with nVidia GeForce 9500M.

As the computer enthusiasts among friend, I want to know about this, so that when a friend want my advice on buying atom computer, I could say, no or yes. If this is the fault of GMA950, I would told them to buy the one with GeForce. If this the fault of atom, then I would told them to buy Core2Duo instead.
November 23, 2008 10:30:03 AM

Atom certainly can do video. I've watched medium-high resolution DivX and WMV files in fullscreen on my Aspire One with the 1.6 GHz Atom without dropped frames and
November 23, 2008 10:33:23 AM

...youtube also works fine. It's probably a driver issue or similar, especially considering most Netbooks ship with some dumbed down version of Linux. Just switch to XP or a proper Linux distro and the problems should go away.
November 23, 2008 10:53:45 AM

I still don't think this Atom is a problem for streaming video (even though I never used an Atom). I personally did "Real" (company name) H.263 streaming video back in 1999 on a Pentium 90Mhz, 56k modem, and a super-sucky 1meg video VESA Local Bus video card.
This makes me wonder what kind of problem you can be having. I didn't see the problems, but it seems to me like a choppy internet connection -> try the youtube broadcast on a network connection you KNOW is excellent. Such as a big university with 10 Gigabit Ethernet directly connected to the SONET Ring with no traffic at 3am.
November 23, 2008 2:32:48 PM

Where I live electricity cost $0.25/KWH so a 29 watt idle costs $64.51 per year for an always on box. I will build an Atom based analog HTPC after a suitable SCH based motherboard becomes available. Intel’s US15W chipset fits the bill but is not specified for the relevant Atoms. When the good stuff is released I think annual idle energy costs will drop about $40 per year or more with a C330 dual core Atom (or equivalent). I am hopeful for 1st quarter availability but it has nor been announced. I am atypical in that I have zero interest in gaming or over clocking (i.e. I am like 90% of the CPU market). In the local marketplace HD media is unlikely to be readily available for several years. While it is not my intent, I suspect the new box will be fully livable for the applications I actually run. I fully agree that Atom is unsuitable for lots of the stuff I do not care about.
November 23, 2008 11:46:19 PM

Why cant you add a GPU to the atom based rig? There are PCI-e 1x cards available, and from my own experience you can modify with the slot on the mobo to be open ended or modify the GPU to fit in the closed ended slot.
!