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Productivity

SunSpider JavaScript performance

Here's our first look at application performance, courtesy of this JavaScript browser benchmark, and it turns out the foreshadowing we saw on the last couple of pages wasn't a fluke. Even today's slowest $87 desktop CPUs, the Athlon X3 455 and the Pentium G6950, very much outperform our two lightweights.

There are two sides of this unfolding performance story. The E-350 APU is undoubtedly in the same overall performance class as the Atom D525—it's not delivering anything close to what we'd consider "90% of today's mainstream performance" like AMD had led us to expect—but it is about 30% faster than the Atom.

7-Zip file compression and decompression

7-Zip is nicely multithreaded and allows the Atom to demonstrate how Hyper-Threading can sometimes grant it higher performance than Zacate's out-of-order execution scheme. Although this looks like another case of domination by the desktop CPUs, we're actually somewhat impressed by the decompression results, where the little guys deliver a high proportion of the throughput of the Conroe-based Core 2 Duo E6400, a pretty potent CPU in its day.

TrueCrypt disk encryption
This full-disk encryption suite includes a performance test, for obvious reasons. We tested with a 500MB buffer size and, because the benchmark spits out a lot of data, averaged and summarized the results.

TrueCrypt has added support for Intel's custom-tailored AES-NI instructions since we last visited it, so the encoding of the AES algorithm, in particular, should be very fast on the Intel CPUs that support those instructions. Those CPUs include the six-core Gulftowns, the dual-core Clarkdales, and Sandy Bridge.

The big boys at the top of the charts here are helped mightily by their support hardware AES acceleration, which makes this something less than a fair fight. The take home message for our Mini-ITX contenders is a little more practical than raw comparative numbers, though. At 40-45 MB/s, their throughput isn't sufficient to sustain real-time disk encryption without slowing down the storage subsystem. Even slower mobile hard drives can sustain transfers at nearly twice those rates.