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Competing Platforms

Preview: VIA VN1000 And Nano DC Platform: An IGP With Game?

VIA’s main claim here is that the Chrome 520 IGP is the most powerful integrated part in its market. That claim might be true, since Intel’s second-generation Atom isn’t supported by Nvidia’s ION integrated chipset.

Yet, because Intel’s newest Atom doesn’t require a separate northbridge (graphics and memory control have migrated into the processor itself), Nvidia’s “Next-Generation ION” add-in GPU brings the platform chip count to three--the same number as VIA.

Well, a few memory chips are also required, but discrete memory for graphics usually boosts its performance while sipping very little additional energy.

ASRock’s new ION3D-ITX motherboard carries the new hardware, complete with the old DDR2 standard that Intel chose for its latest low-energy processor. In light of the power difference, reduced cost is the only reason we can think of for Intel not to choose low-voltage DDR3.

Intel’s previous-generation dual-core Atom used two separate single-core processor dies on one integrated package. Counting those two parts as one unit and adding it to Nvidia’s first-generation ION single-component chipset, this two-component platform is simpler than VIA’s solution.

ASRock’s A330ION motherboard represents the first-generation ION platform, using Intel’s “end-of-life” Atom 330 processor.

Although most of our benchmarks here revolve around comparing the VIA platform to both Atom-based boards, we thought it'd be interest to add Intel's Core i3-530 to the mix as well, factoring in the on-package HD Graphics solution. Can VIA's northbridge-based controller compete? We dropped the entry-level Core i3 onto Intel's own DH57JG mini-ITX motherboard.

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