Athlon Vs. Atom: Duel Of The Energy Savers

Test System, Drivers, Benchmarks, Settings

Components Details
AMD Motherboard Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe, Rev 1.03G nVidia nForce5, BIOS: 1001 (03/13/2007)
AMD 780G Motherboard MSI K9A2GM-FD/FIH AMD 780G, BIOS: 1.4 (04/06/2008)
Intel Motherboard Gigabyte GA-EP35C-DS3R Rev 2.1 Intel P35, BIOS: F3e (03/27/2008)
ITX Intel Celeron 220 Intel D201GLY2 SIS 626, BIOS: 0137 (01/04/2008)
Memory 2x 1GB A-DATA DDR2-1066+ Vitesta Extreme Edition TakeMS 1x 2GB
DVD-ROM Samsung SH-D163A, SATA150
Graphics Card Foxconn nVidia GeForce 8800 GTX GPU: 575 MHz Shader: 1350 MHz Memory: 786 MB DDR4 (900 MHz, 384 bit)
Sound Card Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
Power Supply Coolermaster RS850-EMBA, ATX 2.2, 850 W

Software & Drivers
Component Details
Operating System Windows Vista Enterprise Version 6.0 (Build 6000) Windows XP SP2 VL
DirectX 10 DirectX 10 (Vista Default)
DirectX 9 Version: April 2007
Soundcard Vista Driver 2.13.0012 (15.03.2007)
Soundcard - Atom Vista Driver VIA HD V5.30.32.080228
Graphics Driver nVidia ForceWare Version 158.18 (32 Bit) WHQL
Intel X38 Chipset Version (21.11.2006)
Intel Atom Chipset Version
nVidia Chipset Driver nForce Driver: 15.00 (02.02.2007) WHQL
82945G Express - Atom Version (03.01.2008)
Intel G33 Express Version
Java Java Runtime Environment 6.0 Update 1

Audio Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmark Details
iTunes 7.2 Version: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 min High Quality (160 kbps)
Lame MP3 Version 3.98 Beta 3 (05.22.2007) Audio CD Terminator II SE, 53 min wave to mp3 160 kbps

Application Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmark Details
Grisoft AVG Anti-Virus Version: 7.5.467 Virus base: 269.6.1/776 Benchmark Scan: Vista Enterprise (Windows folder) 8 GB
WinRAR Version 3.70 Beta 8 Compression = Best Dictionary = 4096 kB Benchmark: THG-Workload
Maxon Cinema 4D Release 10 Version 10.008 Rendering from a scene (Water drop at a rose) Resolution: 1280 x 1024 - 8 Bit (50 frames)
Deep Fritz 10 Version: Nov 16 2006

Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
Benchmark Details
PCMark05 Pro Version 1.2.0 CPU and Memory Tests Windows Media Player Windows Media Encoder
SiSoftware Sandra XI SP1c CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / MultiMedia Memory Test = Bandwidth Benchmark

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  • tai_anjing_lu
    Yeah Tom's now AMD/ATI fanboy
  • wh3resmycar
    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 heat/power worries just plain movie enjoyment :D
  • tai_anjing_lu
    Believe it or not, my Sempron 1100 OC could kill the ugly Intel Q9550+ :lol
  • photoguru
    wow... good choices for matching mobos... why even take the time to write these articles? If you're comparing HTPCs that are low cost, efficient, and fast enough for encoding and decoding then do it with the right gear. Don't tell me that an ultra mobile processor just got pwned by a desktop chip unless they figured out how to make that desktop chip fit in an ultra mobile form factor.

    It doesn't make sense to compare them on those terms unless your entire argument is based on wattage and not actual form factor performance.

    I will say that it would be interesting to find out what combination of low cost parts makes the most reasonable HTPC as far as performance/cost goes (with watts and temps included in case we could passively cool these babies).
  • barathn
    Nice article.. surprising to see AMD doing better than Intel ATOM
  • guusdekler
    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.
  • apache_lives
    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!
  • Anonymous
    Wow! great, I hope next time, in 45 nm AMD will bring 2 phenom in one socket and become the new Phenom X8(like Intel pentium D) its just kick the new Intel Core i7. He, he, he...
  • venteras
    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.
  • nottheking
    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...
  • optimizer

    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.


    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.
  • Anonymous
    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
  • justjc
    @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 :)
  • BSMonitor
    Bert and Theo spend all their time trying to flame Intel. Any article they write is slanted that way.
  • KyleSTL
    $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
  • knickle
    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.
  • hurbt
    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.
  • invlem
    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
  • JerryC
    Score one for AMD when they so desperately need it.
  • piesquared
    Welcome to SOI. ;)