While everyone was busy swooning over the latest ultrabooks at Computex in Taiwan yesterday, AMD took the wraps off its new 2012 E-Series APU platform. Formerly code-named Brazos 2.0, the platform is an updated version of—you guessed it—Brazos, which we first looked at in November 2010. It features two new, faster APUs as well as an updated I/O hub with lower idle power and USB 3.0 connectivity.
Here are the new E-series APUs, at a glance:
These two chips are still based on the 40-nm Zacate chip that premiered in 2010. They feature a pair of Bobcat cores, 1MB of L2 cache, and integrated graphics with 80 shader ALUs. However, AMD has re-branded the graphics component as part of the Radeon HD 7000 series, and it touts new feature called Quick Stream technology, which is "designed to prioritize video streaming on PC systems for a smooth, uninterrupted video stream." Also, the fastest member of the new lineup runs a little quicker than last year’s Brazos flagship, the E-450. (That processor, which also had a 18W TDP, ran at 1.65GHz with a peak IGP speed of 600MHz.)
Oddly enough, AMD mentioned Turbo Core dynamic CPU clock scaling while teasing Brazos 2.0 at its Analyst Day event in February, but none of the company’s marketing materials for the 2012 E-Series APU platform reference it. Even the PowerPoint slides quote a top clock speed of 1.7GHz for the E2-1800. The E2-1800 does appear to have a turbo mode for its graphics component, but then again, so did the E-450—and the E-450 launched last August.
According to AMD, the new 2012 E-Series APUs are "designed for essential notebook and desktop personal computers which meet basic performance needs at accessible price points." Translation: you won’t see them sparring with Intel’s 17W, ultrabook-bound Ivy Bridge CPUs. Good thing, too, because as we saw the other day, those power-sipping Intel chips generally deliver better CPU performance than AMD’s top-of-the-line, 35W Trinity APU. Pitting them against the E2-1800 and E1-1200 would be a massacre.
No, AMD has other competitors in mind for Brazos 2.0. In its marketing collateral, the chipmaker compares the new platform’s battery run times with those for systems based on Intel’s Sandy Bridge-based Pentium B940 and Celeron B800. The new E-series APUs purportedly do better, of course, but that’s no real surprise, since the Intel chips have much larger 35W power envelopes. (AMD also fails to supplement the flattering battery numbers with comparative performance data.) More notable is the fact that the Pentium B940 and Celeron B800 are priced at $134 and $80, respectively, a far cry from the $225-$346 of ultrabook-bound Ivy Bridge chips. More likely than not, you’ll see the new E-series APUs in pseudo-netbooks with price tags well under $500.