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Ok, so we knew coming in here that the performance benchmarks weren’t going to favor Intel’s newest Atom. But that’s not the point, right?
Here’s the reason you go with Atom, if at all.
At idle, our Pentium E2200 platform draws 55W (it’s a 65W processor on a microATX motherboard) and 85W with two threads of Prime95 running.
Meanwhile, the Atom 330 on Nvidia’s Ion platform uses 23W at idle, and rises to only 30W under the load of four Prime95 threads (surely this would have been even higher had we also run FurMark).
And true to Intel’s word, the new Atom D510 shaves even more off of that diminutive figure, using less than 20W at idle and just over 26W under load. Of course, as we already know, the D510—Intel’s most powerful model for this generation—runs cool enough that it doesn’t require a fan, whereas the Atom 330/Ion combo on Zotac’s mini-ITX Ion board does. It’s almost eerie to turn the power on to Intel’s D510MO with an SSD attached because it literally makes no noise; the monitor just pops on and you’re up and running.
Given Intel's planned transition to 32nm manufacturing in the next, well, couple of weeks, we were curious as to the timing of this launch at 45nm. After all, 32nm Atoms could make these power numbers even more compelling. Intel responded that there wasn't a definite time-line in place yet for such a move.