Brazos-powered Acer netbook revealed

What will the first netbooks based on AMD’s Brazos platform look like? Now we know. At least, the Macles blog has posted specifications and pictures of an unreleased Acer Aspire One AO522 system purportedly powered by AMD’s C-50 accelerated processing unit.

The system reportedly has a 10.1" display and a 1GHz processor clock speed, so it seems pretty netbook-like. However, Macles says Acer has opted for a 1280×720 display resolution—a nice step up over the typical 1024×600 found on 10.1" netbook panels—and thrown in an HDMI display output. That HDMI port will, of course, be hooked up to the Ontario chip’s built-in Radeon HD 6250 graphics. Also, I should note the AMD C-50 APU features two cores, so it could have a leg up over its Atom rivals when it comes to multitasking.

Otherwise, based on the photos, the AO522 has a standard assortment of USB, VGA, Ethernet, and audio ports, and it looks pretty thin and compact. That thinness might explain the relatively short rated battery life, which Macles says is six hours. (Atom-powered netbooks can and do get close to the ten-hour mark with the right batteries, although they have less-powerful graphics and single-core CPUs.)

One thing missing from this story is pricing information. We can fill that gap with an educated guess, though. When we visited AMD for some hands-on Brazos benchmarking last month, we were told systems with 18W Zacate APUs would start at $399-449, while machines with the 9W Ontario parts (like the C-50) would be cheaper. Considering the higher resolution and dual-core CPU, it’s probably fair to assume Acer will be shooting above $299 netbooks. Personally, I’d expect something closer to $400 than to $300.

Comments closed
    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    I was just a bit underwhelmed by the performance numbers of the 1.6Ghz E-350 (a symptom of unrealistic expectations), but I’ll reserve any judgments about the lower-clocked versions until I see tests.

    • tejas84
    • 9 years ago

    un abrazo por brazos

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    you guys should really chill out. This is the FIRST and ONLY model so far. I don’t expect a perfect product on the first run. I mean, come on, this isn’t an apple product….

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    NeelyCam, you need to get your facts straight.

    Dual-core Atom:
    87 mm² chip
    1.5 GHz CPU clock, in order
    200 MHz GPU clock
    Internal high latency, low bandwidth FSB links
    No video decoding
    No power gating
    8.5w TDP
    Netbooks start at $349

    Dual-core Bobcat:
    75 mm² chip
    1.0 GHz CPU clock, out of order
    280 MHz GPU clock
    Fully integrated memory controller, GPU, and video decoder
    Power gating
    9w TDP
    Netbooks start at $349

    Most things are directly comparable. In order CPUs use less power, and so do lower clock speeds. Atom and Bobcat just make different trade offs there. The things that aren’t comparable are advantages for Bobcat that directly address Atom’s shortcomings.

    There’s no “oversized GPU sucking up power.” With more functionality built in, the entire chip is still smaller than Atom. If you literally cut the GPU in half, as you suggested, it would be worse than the Radeon 3000/4000 IGPs, which already had to run 500 MHz to handle HD video. Slightly more complex, low leakage chip > brute forced, power sucking clock speed.

    You totally lost me with your claims about higher clock speed and a weaker GPU to make it “balanced” and “compete” with CULV platforms. I think you need to reevaluate what a netbook or ultraportable laptop is. A 2 GHz Bobcat with half the GPU power would not open Facebook faster. It would just blow for playing games and be much less useful for watching movies on the battery.

    Coincidentally, it would be exactly what CULV Arrandale is, which does not accomplish what you’re asking at 32nm and the highest $300+ binning.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      I don’t know what facts you claim I didn’t get right, but that’s a nice summary there. You’re confusing opinions and facts, though. /[<"Internal high latency, low bandwidth FSB links"<]/ is an opinion - not a fact. /[<"Most things are directly comparable. In order CPUs use less power, and so do lower clock speeds. Atom and Bobcat just make different trade offs there."<]/ All true. To figure out which trade off is better, one can look at benchmarks: §[<http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/19981<]§ §[<http://www.anandtech.com/show/4023/the-brazos-performance-preview-amd-e350-benchmarked<]§ Looking at the benchmarks, running in-order 1.5GHz dual-core Atom should be faster than an out-of-order 1GHz dual-core Bobcat. When I said "oversized GPU", I didn't mean physically oversized (although area savings could be had there). I meant performance-wise oversized. Regarding HD playback, that could be done with dedicated hardware. Even much maligned X4500HD could do it. The only reason for a powerful general-purpose GPU would be gaming, and this CPU is too slow for that... gaming will suck no matter what. /[<"A 2 GHz Bobcat with half the GPU power would not open Facebook faster."<]/ Sure it will, when compared to a 1GHz Bobcat. /[<"Coincidentally, it would be exactly what CULV Arrandale is, which does not accomplish what you're asking at 32nm and the highest $300+ binning."<]/ Arrandale CULV accomplishes exactly what I'm asking. It's expensive, though, and that's my point: Brazos could have aimed for that ultraportable CPU/GPU balance at a lower price point. AMD went the other way, and the resulting product is - in my opinion - worse, because of the weak CPU. If we're talking about netbooks, though, then the GPU is even more oversized. AMD failed to make the CPU fast enough while keeping the total TDP low. I'm arguing that the GPU didn't have to be so capable, and some of the TDP could've been saved for the CPU, making it better. This would result in a more capable chip for regular netbook usage (who in their right mind would play games with a netbook?), while keeping power consumption low. Finally, why do you think Atoms don't have power gates?

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    Can’t wait to see what other designs come out.

    • maroon1
    • 9 years ago

    Let me remind you that GPU clock of C-50 is only 280MHz (compared to 500MHz for Zacate). Which means that this going to perform much worse in gaming than Zacate.

    The CPU clock is only 1.0GHz

    Zacate E350 (the one that was tested by techreport) is 1.6GHz.

    C-50 is going to be slower than Atom N550 in CPU benchmarks. (you can predict this by looking at Zacate E350 reviews)

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      +1. In all honesty, though, the Brazos GPU is such an overkill that even if it’s clocked at half the frequency, it’s still more than adequate. The CPU sucks, though, and that’s what kills it for me.

      The way I see it, AMD screwed up the balance between the CPU and GPU – they should’ve cut the GPU in half, and use the extra TDP headroom to somehow up the clocks on the CPUs (1.5GHz at 9W, 2GHz at 18W or something). That would’ve been a good chip, capable of competing with CULVs while being substantially cheaper.

        • Game_boy
        • 9 years ago

        TSMC’s process may not be capable of clocking core logic that high with reasonable yields/power consumption. Intel and AMD CPUs are the only silicon >2GHz that I can think of. Nvidia gets <1800MHz out of GPU shaders I think.

        Some sort of CPU-GPU Turbo like SB has would be good, so that in normal use the CPU would be >1GHz and the GPU would be near idle.

        As ever though, I would wait for real-life benches and battery tests as well as other Ontario products. At the very least this might succeed in the market due to AMD pricing the platform lower than Atom to OEMs.

    • amirol
    • 9 years ago

    Wow ,,,,,what a tasty meal ,,,,,Go on Go on AMD I am so hungry for a slim fatfree Lunch..Launch my lunch directly on my desk..me an AMD Hungry, the silent fan on the CGPU.

    • NeelyCam
    • 9 years ago

    I’d hate to say “I told you so”… but I told you so.

    This is a disappointment. At 1GHz, this thing is way slower than dual-core atoms (that run at 1.6GHz), and 6h battery life only? That oversized GPU sucking batteries dry screws the whole value proposition. Not to mention, 32nm Cedarview/Cedar Trail will wipe the floor with it.

    If this is priced at $399, it won’t sell since it would have to compete with 13-h battery life dual-core Atom netbooks such as this one:

    §[<http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220817<]§ $299 for this Brazos netbook would be appropriate, though. But I wouldn't want anything this slow myself.

      • sschaem
      • 9 years ago

      From the benchmark published, a 1.6ghz zacate is 2x faster then a dual-core Atom running at 1.53GHz in web benchmarks.
      So at 1ghz it scale to match a 1.53GHz dual core atom.
      Not bad considering its using half the power and got much better graphics. (will matter with IE9 / Chrome updates)

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        If you’re talking about the TechReport benchmarks, that SunSpider benchmark is the only one where Zacate had a significant lead over N550… in every other benchmark the two were much closer. Of course, that’s an unfair comparison with Zacate TDP being 18W, while N550 is 8.5W.

        So, scaling results down with frequency, the only benchmark where 1GHz Ontario is similar to 1.5GHz N550 is that Javascript benchmark – in everything else N550 whoops Ontario’s butt /[

      • Goty
      • 9 years ago

      Ladies and gentlemen, fanboyism is alive and well!

        • NeelyCam
        • 9 years ago

        Um… which part of my comment was fanboyism in your opinion?

        The Zacate benchmarks on Anandtech/Techreport are pretty clear – out-of-order Bobcat isn’t much faster than in-order Atom per clock, and dual-core atoms are clocked much higher than this 1GHz C-50 while having lower TDP.

          • abw
          • 9 years ago

          Only a little more than 65% faster in single threaded cinebench
          according to the very same anand s preview……

            • JumpingJack
            • 9 years ago

            Are you expecting people to be using these CPUs to render Cinema 4D scenes (single threaded no doubt)?

            • abw
            • 9 years ago

            Was a reply to the usual Intel FB who claimed equal
            perfs with an atom cpu in a clock/clock basis…

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            I never claimed that. Atom and Bobcat perfs are in the same ballpark per clock, with Bobcat generally being a bit faster (and in some cases quite a bit faster). The key point, though, was that Atoms have much faster clocks than Ontario at same TDP, so Atom retains its perf/watt lead.

          • Goty
          • 9 years ago

          Oh, I don’t know, the assumption about the battery life with no information about what capacity battery is being used for the quote, the black-and-white statement about performance, that sort of thing. Oh, and your usual predisposition for Intel products. =P

    • SoulSlave
    • 9 years ago

    There’s a nice chance that this thing, the platform, not necessarily this netbook, becomes a hit. Maybe not enough to outsell Intel’s offers, but certainly capable of hurting their market share.

    You see, the average Joe will appreciate the extra performance into similar power constraints. And will certainly love the ability to play FullHD movies without compromising battery life.

    I personally like the flexibility this platform presents, HTPCs, Home Servers, Casual Gaming, etc…

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      l[

        • SoulSlave
        • 9 years ago

        l[

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        THIS particular one only gets 6 hours. But we don’t know battery specs yet. Acer was able to get 12 hours out of a platform that Asus and MSI got about 7-8 out of. With some more time, and a larger form factor, this thing could easily get 12+ hours.

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          Fair point. We’ll have to wait for Anand’s “relative battery performance” benchies to get a better idea where these chips are.

    • BlackStar
    • 9 years ago

    1280×720@10.1” = 145 DPI. Awesome!

    • abw
    • 9 years ago

    It looks great…
    1.6 Ghz /15″6 with a correct battery would rocks
    and will be certainly the main offer, though with
    smaller screens surely..

    • Ryhadar
    • 9 years ago

    That netbook would go great with my lime green fiesta, heh.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    They’re claiming 6 hours of battery life, and that’s a little concerning…

      • oMa
      • 9 years ago

      Lets hope it’s because it only has a 3 or 4 cell battery.

        • SoulSlave
        • 9 years ago

        I can see it being a 4 cell battery. My Aspire One (Brazilian version) only lasts like two hours, and it’s a three cell battery…

      • TaBoVilla
      • 9 years ago

      yow! happy-B josh, hope you have a great time with friends and family! =)

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        thanks man! it was a really good time!

      • moritzgedig
      • 9 years ago

      what is concerning about that?
      I don’t need more than that. After a few years the time will be down to 3h, but even that is ok. even if I’m not near a power-source for more than 3h, I usually do not use the PC all the time.
      I could live with much less in the past and this is no catastrophe.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        I just clocked 7h 55m on my 2-yr old Thinkpad X300 yesterday before the battery ran down to 1% (3 cell + 9 cell battery).

        Having good battery life in a mobile device is very liberating. I can go to the local barista and not have to worry about finding a seat near a power outlet – instead, I can scope out the comfiest chair instead, or sit on the terrace. I can take my work and/or leisure with me when I’m travelling and not stress about running out of juice halfway through my trip.

        6h on a netbook is pretty disappointing, especially since it’s most likely a ‘best case scenario’ situation. 8h of *real world* use would be my absolute minimum if I were shopping for a netbook/ultraportable today.

    • dpaus
    • 9 years ago

    Hurry up, SSK – I want to post a comment!

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      lol
      you can post. I’m in game! playing some hon!

        • dpaus
        • 9 years ago

        Great, thanks! I just wanted to say that I wish this had come out in time for Christmas, so I wouldn’t have had to buy yet another Atom-based netbook as a present 🙁

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