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Ringing The Bell: Conclusion

Efficiency Analysis: Atom D510 Vs. Atom D525/ION2
By , Achim Roos

Atom D525 Comes Out Ahead

Intel's new low-power, 1.8 GHz, dual-core D525 is convincing as an advanced Atom version, but it's by no means an exciting product. This changing of the guard is happening quietly and seamlessly. Jetway offers Atom D510 and D525 solutions based on identical PCB designs, making clear that a modified motherboard revision is sufficient to support the faster processor.

Also keep in mind that the performance bump doesn't change anything regarding the Atom's overall classification. This is a low-power, low-cost solution for all application scenarios, including kiosks, ATMs, point-of-sale computers, and nettops at home or the office. Atom still can't deliver application performance for serious workloads.

Platform Comparison

The 30 W idle power consumption on the Jetway's ION2 motherboard is nothing that couldn't be achieved on a well-designed desktop system. Low-power desktop computers deliver much better efficiency, as well. But they come at considerably higher cost and therefore might not be suitable for all applications or emerging markets. Still, we have to include the ION2 solution into our conclusion, as its 3D performance is a world apart from Intel's IGP, making the Jetway Atom D525 capable enough for older DirectX 9 games.

Thanks to ION2 and the VLC player 1.1.4 it is possible to smoothly watch 1080p/i videos within the discussed power envelope. This could not be done without Nvidia's graphics unit, as even 720p video was impossible to watch on the Atom D510. Since the CPU performance difference is small, it's clear that video playback differences can be attributed only to differences in graphics support.

If you want to do anything beyond browsing the Internet, manage email, and watch basic YouTube and DVD video, you should clearly consider an Atom solution with ION2 graphics. This makes a huge difference for video/multimedia. Other than that, it's important to go for a dual-core Atom. Single-core options are only suitable for specific and very limited application scenarios. Home and office nettop PCs require an Atom dual-core for smooth operation. Intel's new Atom D525 certainly is a good step, and it evolves performance for existing system designs without increasing their power envelope.

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  • 1 Hide
    darthvidor , October 15, 2010 6:26 AM
    very nice, thank you. been wondering how fast and energy efficient the new atom is. might replace the intel d945gclf2 connected to my tv.
  • 1 Hide
    Simple11 , October 15, 2010 6:42 AM
    Sweet! I am always looking at atoms+ion combos for my Carputer build!
  • -1 Hide
    Gin Fushicho , October 15, 2010 6:50 AM
    I just skipped to the power consumption after I saw the application benches.

    I'd rather keep the D510 over a D525. Longer battery life for my simple purpose of web browsing.
  • 5 Hide
    super_tycoon , October 15, 2010 7:01 AM
    i don't think you guys even tried using the d525/ion2 system for anything beyond the benchmarks. you greatly underestimate how usable it is. my asus 1215n chugs along just fine in almost any game. obviously you wouldn't want to throw something like civ5 at it, but in reality the combo plays games better than (for the most part) any iX notebook with integrated graphics. it plays company of heroes and starcraft 2 just fine at lowered settings. i'd bet you'd be surprised how viable it is as a light gaming platform for something that uses as much power as your monitor.
  • 1 Hide
    jeremypv , October 15, 2010 7:40 AM
    >>This could not be done without Nvidia's graphics unit, as even 720p video was impossible to watch on the Atom D510.

    I'm using xbmc with a D510, and it plays 720p video just fine, with coreavc, it can even play a few 1080p videos
  • 2 Hide
    ta152h , October 15, 2010 8:38 AM
    Was this supposed to be about the Ion, or the D525? Why would you write an article with the intent to compare two processors, and put them on very different platforms?

    I didn't even read this worthless article after I saw that. It would have been interesting had the reviewers used some common sense.
  • 4 Hide
    JonnyDough , October 15, 2010 8:40 AM
    Except for power savings...why would anyone buy one of these when you can get recycled PCs for almost free? In six months they will have something a lot better anyway.
  • 0 Hide
    sudeshc , October 15, 2010 9:12 AM
    nice article, but i feel there is still need for alot of improvements
  • 1 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , October 15, 2010 10:01 AM
    I don't get why intel still hasn't made the transition to 32nm for the Atoms yet. You would think these chips would have been the first to get 32nm.
  • 2 Hide
    jestersage , October 15, 2010 10:26 AM
    I feel the article lacked meat. It would have been interesting to compare it to an old gf9300 or even gf7050 socket 775 motherboard with a PDC or even CDC. The latter options would probably cost as much nowadays as the d525+ion combo.
  • 0 Hide
    nevertell , October 15, 2010 12:10 PM
    Oh come on, how is it NOT possible to watch a 720 p on an atom, if I can watch it with an sempron 2400+ which is just ancient.
  • -2 Hide
    tx-jose , October 15, 2010 1:25 PM

    I have a mini ITX buil but its a gigabyte pushing an 1156LGA i5 overclocked to 4.16GHz and DDR3 1333 ram!!! nice for HTPC with a GTS 250 Nvidia grafix card too .....
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , October 15, 2010 1:56 PM
    In general without the video/power tests the rest are still fairly valid for a performance comparison.

    tx-josesweet!!! I have a mini ITX buil but its a gigabyte pushing an 1156LGA i5 overclocked to 4.16GHz and DDR3 1333 ram!!! nice for HTPC with a GTS 250 Nvidia grafix card too .....
    Cool, I got one of those too but with a 5770, what does it have to do with this article? 46 watts idle without overclocking is cool though.

    super_tycooni'd bet you'd be surprised how viable it is as a light gaming platform for something that uses as much power as your monitor.

    Way less then my monitor, i bet i have the least efficient screen ever made.
  • 0 Hide
    Parsian , October 15, 2010 3:04 PM
    Here is my personal experience as a student, with my 11.6" HP MINI 311 ION w/ 3GB and Windows 7 Pro 32bit with Full AERO features active:

    I can run Mathlab, have 7 browsers open, and all at the same time. Oh yes, i can play Youtube HD 1080 smooth unlike most of the laptops out there. So to me, its the most amazing device that is light, cheap and can pack a lot of punch for 400 bux canadian.

  • 0 Hide
    digiex , October 15, 2010 3:49 PM
    I just wait for Zapate.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , October 15, 2010 4:14 PM
    I kind of think some things are bull;

    The older Atom N260 was capable of playing back older DX9 games,and HD 720p video; why should the desktop version not be able to?

    Perhaps not at 1600x1200 pixels or more, but at 1024x600 or 720p it should play back most games on lowered resolution!
  • 2 Hide
    luke904 , October 15, 2010 4:41 PM
    really? i never knew more clockspeed results in better performance and more power consumption, and relatively the same efficiency. sorry this just wasnt a good read
  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , October 15, 2010 5:05 PM
    Are you sure that old D510MO doesn't have a mini-PCIe slot, whats that grey riser between the ATX power plug and the PCI slot? Still, you can see why Intel downplays ION, it adds a lot to the power consumption. Sure, it makes it much more capable at video and gaming, but others here seem to think the non-ION variety can handle 720P just fine, which would put these in league with the AppleTV, where they cannot compete on price. I just don't see where Atom fits into any market segment. ARM is much more power efficient, and The Core i3s and Athlon II's are much too powerful (and not really much more expensive).
  • 0 Hide
    gmarsack , October 15, 2010 5:12 PM
    I own two Atom-based systems (one being a D510) and I have to say, they are pretty darn amazing for the cost to operate. It's nice to see this tech advance, and I would love to see continued advancement in power efficiency and see those power levels continue to drop.
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