AMD Brazos platform tested - The E350 APU review -
The Brazos Platform
The Brazos Platform
So the low power platform we are looking at today was formerly codenamed "Brazos".
All Brazos motherboards are within the same price range and power envelopes as Atom/Ion solutions. They are available in several APU variations: E-Series and C-Series, which fall within the Fusion family of APUs.
- Liano = AMD A Series APUs
- Zacate = AMD E Series APUs (18W)
- Ontario = AMD C Series APUs (9W)
On the the desktop side within the Zacate and Ontario segment, these are released:
Zacate (18W max):
- AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU @ 1.6GHz & GPU @ 500MHz)
- AMD E-240 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (single-core CPU @ 1.5GHz & GPU @ 500MHz)
Ontario (9W max)
- AMD C-50 with AMD Radeon HD 6250 Graphics (dual-core CPU @ 1.0GHz & GPU @ 280MHz)
- AMD C-30 with AMD Radeon HD 6250 Graphics (single-core CPU @ 1.2GHz & GPU @ 280MHz)
The Processing capability
These APU "processors" feature the new x86 CPU core codenamed "Bobcat" AMD's first new x86 core since 2003 I think. It was designed from the ground up to deliver an enhanced mobile level performance. A processor tagged at a TDP of merely 18 Watts. Have a look below at the APU die.
To the left the Zacate APU - To the right an overlay describing the die segments check out the size needed for the GPU.
The APU we test today has two x86 CPU cores, the chip also supports full X86-64 extensions and sports a 64-bit FPU as well. Each CPU core has 32kb L1 and 512kb L2 cache per core and comes with a single channel memory controller that supports up-to 1066 MHz (but unofficially also 1333 MHz) DDR3 memory. Again note that the specified max memory speed AMD officially supports for Brazos is 1066MHz. Today we test a product with the E-350, an APU that is empowering the motherboard, it is a dual-core processor SKU running at a clock frequency of 1.6 GHz
|Tech/Package||FT1 BGA, 413-Ball, 19x19mm, .8mm pitch|
|Processor Core||Bobcat (2 cores), 512KB L2/Core, 64-bit FPUs|
|Memory||DDR3, 800-1066, 1.35V/1.5V (Single Channel, 2 DIMMs)|
|Graphics Core||DX11 capable, UVD3 enabled|
|Displays||-Digital Display I/F DP0: Display Port, HDMI, DVI, LVDS|
-Digital Display I/F DP1: Display Port, HDMI, DVI
-VGA from integrated VGA DAC
-Core Level: CC6 Power State
-Package Level: PC6 Power State
-L2 Cache power gating
The Graphics capability
Tagged and labeled under the Vision engine there's a nice graphics subsystem embedded into the APU responsible for many tasks, embedded is a Radeon HD 6310 (Vancouver Radeon HD series 6000) which can drive real low-level games, but most of all is perfect for Full HD content playback, DXVA hardware acceleration and post processing. You guys all know UVD right, the Universal Video Decoder technology from ATI, well the 3rd generation UVD core logic has been embedded into the GPU so VC1. H.264, DIVX/XVID acceleration is all supported.
You are at Guru3D, and as such this lingo is more to your liking and understanding, the embedded GPU has two 40 Shader Cores (one per SIMD) = 80 Shader Cores/APU all clocked at 500MHz for the E-350 APU.
Now that's not huge, but you do you have a generic GPU at hands allowing all common tasks, a tiny bit of gaming, but where its most interesting is HD content playback. When the media-file allows it you can decode, accelerate and enhance 1080P movies for example over the GPU, allowing the CPU to do very little.
Not only is that offering really good HTPC features and output, you are doing that with a low power budget as well. For example we tried decoding MVK movies at 1080P with Media Player Classic Home Cinema, when the content is DXVA enabled (pretty much all MVK content these days) you can perfectly playback the movie and post process (image sharpening / black levels etc) as well. Meanwhile the processing subsystem in the APU was active less than 30% and our total power draw merely 46 Watt.
Audio wise you are covered as well, all common formats are supported and even bitstreaming both TrueHD and DTS-HD MA are supported over HDMI.
The APU processor then leads to another chip, called the HUDSON chipset (IO controller chip), which functions as your a-typical Southbridge really, let's have a peek at its specifications.
|Tech/Package||65nm / FC BGA, 605-Ball, 23x23mm, .8mm pitch|
|TDP Configs||2.7W to 4.7W for typical configurations|
|SATA||6 Ports, 6Gb/s|
|USB||14 USB2.0 Ports, 2 USB1.1 Internal Ports|
|PCIe GPPs||4x1 Gen2|
|HWM||Incorporates Fan Control, VoltageLevel Sensing|
As you can see, as small as this stuff really is, it oozes with the latest technology like 14 USB 2.0 ports but yeah sure, up-to six sate-600 ports, which is pretty impressive stuff.
So what's the Motherboard tested today ?
One of the partners that released a Brazos-based mini-ITX motherboard is Gigabyte. Thus this product is fusion based, the GA-E350N-USB3, featuring the Hudson-M1 chipset formerly called the Brazos "low-power platform".
The E-350 is the APU that is empowering the motherboard, it is a dual-core processor running at a clock frequency of 1.6 GHz and that embedded graphics core is in fact Radeon HD 6310 allowing the following monitor connectors (DVI, HDMI, D-Sub).
The motherboard comes with two DDR3 memory slots and even a PCI Express x16 slot (really runs at PCIe x4), DualBIOS and four SATA 6.0 Gbps connectors, which is interesting. I expect a lot of home-servers running this product. Also in combination with a motherboard like this you can create a ridiculously nice file-server. Features wise it does not stop there though as you'll even spot two USB 3.0 connectors, 7.1 channel audio and Gigabit Ethernet.
But let's have a look at that...
AMD Fusion is here, the APU has been born. In this article we'll have a closer look at the Brazos platform, with in specific the AMD E-350 APU, a processor and GPU all in one.