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Conclusion: Athlon 64 Is More Economical, Faster, And Quieter

Athlon Vs. Atom: Duel Of The Energy Savers
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In our Munich lab’s duel of the energy-savers, the AMD Athlon 64 2000+ beats the Intel Atom 230 in energy consumption and processing power. Each of the systems was based on a desktop platform. The Achilles heel of the Intel system is its old system platform with the 945GC chipset, while AMD offers a more modern 780G platform.

The energy-saving solution from AMD offers more possibilities: it has three times as many SATA ports, possesses better onboard graphics performance, and can also support two monitors. Unlike the Intel solution, an HD resolution (1920x1200) with high picture quality is possible through DVI/HDMI ports. And early information suggests that the AMD Athlon 64 2000+ should cost close to $90.

In terms of noise level, AMD can again beat the Intel solution: in our test the AMD energy-saving platform was able to run without a fan. Due to the high energy consumption of Intel’s chipset, the Atom board requires active cooling for stable and error-free operation.

Although the Athlon 64 2000+ uses more power than Intel’s Atom 230 CPU, the entire system requires less energy both when idle and during full load operation because of the chipset. AMD currently offers the most energy-saving desktop platform on the market, and requirements could be lowered even further if the manufacturer of a 780G board decided to use a single-phase controller with other energy-saving components.

The AMD platform has one disadvantage, however: at present, the 780G chip set is only available on a microATX board, where Intel offers a significantly smaller miniITX board. It would be sensible if AMD also offered very small embedded boards, which would enable the company to widen the gap even further.

Display all 88 comments.
  • 4 Hide
    wh3resmycar , August 15, 2008 9:16 AM
    oh please, spare me those kind of crap...

    clearly the 780g platforms owns any nvidia/intel chipset to date.

    about the article:

    this is a winner, i mean this is like the ultimate HTPC setup you can ever have.no heat/power worries just plain movie enjoyment :D 
  • -8 Hide
    tai_anjing_lu , August 15, 2008 9:17 AM
    Believe it or not, my Sempron 1100 OC could kill the ugly Intel Q9550+ :lol
  • 5 Hide
    barathn , August 15, 2008 9:32 AM
    Nice article.. surprising to see AMD doing better than Intel ATOM
  • 7 Hide
    guusdekler , August 15, 2008 9:44 AM
    Tom's choice of AMD hardware is a bit shortsighted in my opinion.
    There exist a lot more options that the matx board of his choice.

    Let me name some of the MINI-ITX boards there are for AMD AM2 AM2+:
    - Albatron KI690-AM2
    - AOpen NMCP68ST-LA
    - JetWay NC62K-LF
    - MSI Fuzzy 690T

    Allricht they employ a different chipset than the 780G but still very competetive as i derive this information from a dutch hardware magazine that tested these boards against intel's solution and especially the AOpen and MSI boards beat the crap out of intel's D201GLY2 board.
  • 3 Hide
    apache_lives , August 15, 2008 11:45 AM
    see this is what AMD is all about!!!!!!!!!!!

    Intel - produces first generation, limited, expensive and unflexible setups, AMD creates a cheaper flexible option for the masses, which kicks Intel back in line.

    This opens the low power platform up to all new ideas, and allows vista to run properly thanks to the video performance etc, and ram support.

    Nice one AMD!
  • 3 Hide
    venteras , August 15, 2008 12:46 PM
    I agree with photoguru, this is a pointless comparison. If you don't use the same form factor, i.e. mini-itx for both of them then what's the point? Unless if you want to disregard size and only compare performance/watt. However, since the whole point of the ATOM is to go 'smaller'... yeah, whatever.
  • 1 Hide
    nottheking , August 15, 2008 12:47 PM
    I must say I'm a bit surprised at the results. It's good to see that perhaps there's more life (and use) left in Athlon64s than we'd previously thought, if they make ideal low-power CPUs. Likewise, it's a surprise to find a place where AMD trumps Intel in the performance-per-watt sector, which is always important; I can perhaps imagining chips like the 2000+ and Atom being used for low-maintenance servers and datacenters, where PPW has always outweighed raw performance, since it's infinitely easier to buy more chips than to upgrade the local power grid.

    Now, if only Intel would develop an Atom-specific chipset that didn't consume copious amounts of memory. If AMD can get low-end GPU power sufficient for high-def decoding (regardless of what the CPU is) in under a single watt, certainly Intel could make a chipset that can handle all that is done by the 945GC and its laughable GMA 950 in even less power, since we're talking a less-complex design that has considerably less graphics power on hand, as well as the fact that Intel has access to 45nm production right now, while AMD is still stuck with 55nm. If only the chipset for an Atom didn't have several times the thermal envelope of the CPU...
  • 0 Hide
    optimizer , August 15, 2008 12:53 PM
    @photoguru...

    Well, the article clearly mentioned the price differential between the two platforms. Although I don't have direct information on the chipset die sizes, for the processors themselves, the Athlon is going to be much more expensive to produce, and the motherboard for it, too. So yeah, the two products are in different price classes. As far as comparing the platforms though, it is a fair comparison if you are interested in the lowest-power platforms the two companies are offering right now, because Intel just doesn't have an Atom board with the same features out. So if someone wants a low-power board/processor, these would be two of the main choices, and if you do a comparison based on that, the Athlon seems like a pretty good deal if you are not space-constrained.

    @apache_lives:

    Lets be fair, at least in this instance, the AMD solution, while more flexible, more powerful, etc., is not a cheaper option. I do like the fact, though, that K8 still has some life in it.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 15, 2008 12:57 PM
    this actualy still is a niche amd beats intel in hehe. pretty good there chipset uses amazingly little power and so dous there energy efficient athlon. i hope they might launch there deneb soon. no i dont think it will strangle the core i7 but it might deliver good preformance for an affordable price.i dont have 999 euro to pay for some core2 extreme you know im not rich but if you want to support me feel free to give me one :D 
  • 3 Hide
    justjc , August 15, 2008 1:00 PM
    @photoguru: The article has nothing to do with building the best HTPC or form factors.
    The article is clearly about AMDs soon to come answer to Intels Atom, the AMD Athlon 64 2000+, and how it on existing hardware(a Gigabyte 780G motherboard) can beat the Atom in both energy efficiency and processing power.
    I admire guusdeklers work finding AM2 boards in the mITX formfactor to answer photoguros complaint, however there is no need to use the less effective 690t chipset when boards like the J & W Minix 780G-SP128MB Mini ITX 780G Motherboard allready provides a mITX motherboard based on the 780G chipset :) 
  • -7 Hide
    BSMonitor , August 15, 2008 1:41 PM
    Bert and Theo spend all their time trying to flame Intel. Any article they write is slanted that way.
  • 3 Hide
    KyleSTL , August 15, 2008 2:08 PM
    $90 for the 2000+? That seems ungodly expensive for what it is. I guess it's a cherry-picked single core to be able to lower the Vcore that much.

    Also, a little editing goes a long way, on the test configuration page the graphics card (8800GTX) claims to have 786MB 384-bit GDDR4 ram. I don't think so .... :p 
  • 3 Hide
    knickle , August 15, 2008 2:13 PM
    Every time I see a new article about the Atom, I get my hopes up that there will be an actual comparison to others in the MiniITX market. Every time I get my hopes up, I am disappointed with benchmarks using apples and oranges. Where is VIA in all this? They have been doing MiniITX long before Intel, and the boards include their own manufactured CPU.

    I guess I can keep dreaming.
  • 2 Hide
    hurbt , August 15, 2008 2:19 PM
    Hmm... I'm usually more interested in the fastest, latest, greatest thing out there, but this article has me interested more in how efficient these things can get... as a prospective notebook purchaser.

    Nice article... Clearly in favor of the AMD, which performs better and uses less power... there's no fanboy there. I'll be interested to see how efficient the AMD's can get when (or if) they go to 45nm production.
  • 3 Hide
    invlem , August 15, 2008 2:26 PM
    While the motherboard comparison is a bit odd, seeing as they are in vastly different classes. There is one thing people do seem to be overlooking.

    The 780g motherboard, which contains a hell of a lot more graphics power and expansion capabilities. Is much more energy efficient than Intel's, stripped down ITX model which is being sold with their super energy efficient processor.

    Its a massive oversight on Intel to create a so-called energy efficient solution, with an obviously very energy IN-efficient motherboard.

    If AMD is serious in this market they could easily make a 'lite' version of the 780g, (If they were to half the SATA ports, and cut back on some of the expansion slots, ITX sizing the 780g would be a cinch).

    Now if only they could get their high performance parts up to par as well :p 
  • 0 Hide
    JerryC , August 15, 2008 2:33 PM
    Score one for AMD when they so desperately need it.
  • 1 Hide
    piesquared , August 15, 2008 2:39 PM
    Welcome to SOI. ;) 
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