Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350 Review

Product: Sapphire Pure Fusion Mini E350
Company: Sapphire
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: June 13th, 2011

Performance Evaluation

More than anything, context is important to understand the existence of the AMD E-series APU's. The netbook and ultra-portable notebook segment demand an x86 compatible processor with great graphics and long battery life. How this transforms into the desktop market is tricky, as some thought is necessary to determine the target market. For a desktop platform, typically tethered to the wall and likely to the 'net, considerations of power efficiency are less important but still there if only in selection of power supply unit (PSU). The typical use of boards like this is home theater or media PC, or specific application cases.

Athlon X2 3250e

For our performance comparison we chose Dell's Zino HD, based on the AMD Athlon X2 3250e processor with integrated Radeon graphics. The Zino HD is a small form factor PC with HTPC or small form factor desktop aspirations, ideal for light productivity and media consumption. The Athlon X2 3250e is part of AMD's original Athlon Brisbane energy efficient line on socket AM2, released in Q4 '08 using GlobalFoundries (then AMD) 65nm process and features two x86 cores at 1.5GHz at a 22W TDP. This is close to the TDP of the Brazos platform, including fusion controller hub (estimated 4W TDP) but not add-on controllers (Ethernet, USB 3, Bluetooth, ICS I/O; ~5W for all four). Added to the CPU, the Zino HD features integrated HD 3200 graphics and AMD southbridge. Already we see an advantage for the Sapphire Pure fusion mini E350 - faster cores, with more powerful DirectX 11 graphics and faster memory; the Zino HD uses DDR2 SODIMMs.

Athlon X2 3250e compared to Zacate

To establish the performance characteristics of the Athlon X2 3250e vs. the E-350, we used SiSoft Sandra 2011. Tests were performed running on Windows 7 SP1 x32 Ultimate, with all latest patches and updates and AMD Catalyst 11.5b + CAP 5 and 11.5 chipset and storage drivers. Installing Windows 7 on the E-350 was no problem, the chipset and storage detected natively by the windows installer. After setup was complete, updated drivers for the Marvell network controller were installed, along with the latest drivers for NEC USB 3.0 controller and Atheros Bluetooth controller.

SiSoft Sandra: CPU Arithmetic Performance

SiSoft Sandra: GPGPU/GPCPU Processing

SiSoft Sandra: Cryptographic Benchmark (CPU and GPU)

SiSoft Sandra: Memory Bandwidth

AMD's big push right now is OpenCL and heterogeneous computing, using both CPU and GPU performance to improve the end user experience. AMD recently announced broader OpenCL adoption, a cross-platform open standard compute language, with HP Labs and Sony Creative Software adopting OpenCL to accelerate parallel compute tasks. You can clearly see above how the compute performance of the SIMD array translates into more performance/watt. Looking at the specifications, the Brazos platform is not meant to be a gaming platform, or a high performance workstation. Primarily it is aimed at media consumption, an activity more and more popular with today’s home PC consumers - it's the basis for AMD's Vison branding, aiming to deliver the performance to meet with the usability expectations. It takes a trained eye to translate gigahertz and gee-bees into how well a machine can perform different tasks.