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Athlon Vs. Atom: Duel Of The Energy Savers

AMD Athlon 64 2000+ At 8 Watts

With the development of the Atom processor, Intel introduced a totally new chip design that consumes very little energy. AMD had to strike back, and did so by clocking down its Athlon 64, employing the K8 micro architecture, down to the lowest possible frequency of 1 GHz. The Athlon 64 2000+ runs with a core voltage of 0.90 volts and uses just 8 watts. As a result, the CPU easily operates without a fan. If you drop the 8 W Athlon 64 into a motherboard based on the 780G chipset, then the system hits power consumption numbers that, in our measurements, are below Intel’s Atom desktop solution. We were even able to lower the core voltage by 11%, without stability problems, and the power analyzer read lower numbers. Interestingly, AMD’s Athlon 64 2000+ processor, unlike Intel‘s Atom CPU, is not embedded in the motherboard. It can be run on any board with an AM2 or AM2+ socket.

Compared to Intel’s Atom, which runs at 1.6 GHz, the Athlon 64 2000+ is clocked at 1 GHz—60% lower. Despite this, the Athlon 64 outperforms the Atom in several benchmark tests as a result of its more efficient K8 architecture. In addition, the energy consumption of the entire system is lower, and that’s what really matters most.

We tried to run an AMD Sempron LE-1100 at 1 GHz and 0.90 V, but it crashed due to instability. Either the Athlon 64 2000+ was a pre-selected CPU, or the Athlon core has undergone a different manufacturing process than the normal processors. However, the AMD Athlon 64 2000+ will be significantly more expensive to manufacture than the Atom processor because Intel had optimized its energy-saving model to lower production costs.

  • tai_anjing_lu
    Yeah Tom's now AMD/ATI fanboy
    Reply
  • 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 have.no heat/power worries just plain movie enjoyment :D
    Reply
  • tai_anjing_lu
    Believe it or not, my Sempron 1100 OC could kill the ugly Intel Q9550+ :lol
    Reply
  • 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).
    Reply
  • barathn
    Nice article.. surprising to see AMD doing better than Intel ATOM
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply