Intel Atom Shootout

9/29/2008

Author: Michael Evilsizer

Intel has said for a while now they would be releasing a dual core Atom. Well I got mine ordered last week and spent most of the small amount of time I have running benchmarks on it. In this review I am going to compare the Atom 230 to the Atom 330. Both M-ITX setups cost under just $100, the Atom 230 is going to be roughly $70USD, while Atom 330 is roughly $80USD. Lets take a look at the motherboards now.

Atom 330 Above

Atom 230 Above

For starters both Atom 230 and Atom 330 CPU's are on the same motherboard. Based around the the 945 one of the cheapest chipsets Intel has to offer. Both boards are a M-ITX form factor, lets start off with the I/O backplate.

Atom 330 Above

Above 230 Above

As you can see there isnt much in the way of upgradability here on the motherboard. Now on to the hardware used for testing.

System specs:

Atom 230 (D945GCLF)

Atom 330 (D945GCFL2)

G.Skill DDR2-667 Cas 4-4-4-12 (F2-5300CL4S-2GBPQ)

PowerColor 24PRO256M (ATI 2400Pro PCI 256MB, with 8.7cats)

Seagate 80GB 7200.2 (ST980813AS)

Pioneer DVD-RW PATA (DVR-115DBK)

Windows XP-Pro SP2

** Both boards have the first release bios's**


Programs used:

Wprime 1.55 | Sandra 2009 Lite | PC Wizard 2008 | PcMark05

3DMark2001SE | 3DMark03 | 3DMark05 | 3DMark06 | CINEBENCH R10

Auto Gordian Knot (For Xvid and Divx encoding) | Lame 3.98

** notes about encoding runs**

Auto Gordian Knot was set to 80% quality, the xvid encoding was set to defaults, dvix offered no setting control. The clip I used was the first 10mins of the movie “Transporter” which was put on the hard drive for encoding. During the Lame runs I did both 128bit and 320bit, with the -h flag used. I also setup a batch file to run more then one instance of Lame for the dual/quad runs. For encoding I grabbed my oldie by still favorite Prodigy/Fat of the Land cd, I used track 7 (Narayan) which came in at 9min 6sec long.

Now off to the benchmarks:

Wprime 32m (time in Secs)

Atom 230

Atom 330

140.09

70.03

No suprise here that the time is cut in half..

Wprime 1024m (time in Secs)

Atom 230

Atom 330

4475.33

2229.49

Again, here we see the time cut in half by twice as much.

Sandra 2009 Lite


Sandra 2009 Lite


Atom 230

Atom 330

Cpu Arithmetic ALU | FPU

3804MIPS | 3340FLOPS

76226MIPS | 6691FLOPS

Crytography AES256 | SHA256

25MB/s | 43MB/s

51MB/s | 87MB/s

Memory Bandwidth unBuff'd iSSE2

Int 1.49GB/s | Float 1.45GB/s

Int 1.48GB/s | Float 1.45GB/s

Memory Bandwidth Buff'd iSSE2

Int 2.71GB/s | Float 2.33GB/s

Int 2.79GB/s | Float 2.43GB/s

Memory Latency Random

184ns

174ns

Memroy Latency Linear

23ns

21ns

Nice little increase we see here in the memroy department. Not sure what was going on with the unBuff'd results on Atom 330, the numbers kept coming out the same.

 

Pcwizard 2008


 

Atom 230

Atom 330

Cpu Global

675.224

1819.76

Cache Global

4018

4452

Memory Global

2297

2319

Whetstone x87

2136

2368

Whestone iSSE3

4019

4460

Dhrystone iSSE3

5275

8413

Computaion of “Manderlbrot” iSSE3

71.594Sec

35.938Sec

Not sure how to read these result vs Sandra, it does seem to follow Sandra's increases.

Futuremark Results


 

Atom 230

Atom 330

PcMark05

1667

2008

3DMark01SE

5698

5821

3DMark03 Total Score

2234

2286

3DMark03 Cpu Score

131

134

3DMark05 Total Score

1376

1402

3DMark05 Cpu Score

666

652

3DMark06 Total Score

821

883

3DMark06 Cpu Score

495

896

The 3Dmark05 cpu score seems like a fluke, its the only one that showed a descrease with Atom 330.

Now we hit up numbers that many would like to see the most.

CineBench R10


 

Atom 230

Atom 330

OpenGL

496

497

Single Cpu

547

550

Multi Cpu

834

1545

I am willing to bet if the cpu speed were faster the OpenGL numbers would be higher. It is interesting to note that the Multi cpu on Atom 330 is near double in score.

Encoding Results

(Time in secs)


 

Atom 230

Atom 330

Xvid

986

954

Divx

650

607

MP3 128bit Single Run

159

159

MP3 128bit Dual Run

194 | 195

172 | 173

MP3 128bit Quad Run

NA

195 | 196 | 195 | 196

MP3 320bit Single Run

142

141

MP3 320bit Dual Run

174 | 175

152 | 152

MP3 320bit Quad Run

NA

175 | 175 | 175 | 175

Here the Quad runs of Atom 330 equal the Dual runs of Atom 230. Now the dual runs with Atom 330 were with HT on. Take note of the times of he dual atom 330 runs and the Xvid/Divx runs.

HT vs No HT Encoding Results

(Time in secs)


 

Atom 230 (w/HT)

Atom 330 (wo/HT)

MP3 Dual 128bit

194 | 195

159 | 160

MP3 Dual 320bit

174 | 175

142 | 143

Xvid

986

892

Divx

650

554

Now if you compare Atom 330's other results how can this be on the Video encoding. My best guess is that AutoGK can't use more then 2 cores as noted by the times. It is really interesting to note how big of a difference there is with AutoGK on Atom 330 with HT vs without(comparing times from above). The MP3 Encoding results seem inline with the single runs for 128bit and 320bit. Note that Atom 230 took a hit with encoding both at once since its not a true dual core but using HT.

Pro's:

  • High work per watt

  • Able to handle 4 threads at once

  • Passive heatsink for the cpu

Con's:

  • Chipset needs a fan, would have prefered a bigger chipset sink without a fan.

  • No digital output either DVI/HDMI or toshlink/coax optical.

  • Only 1 dimm slot

  • No PCIE slot

  • No heatsink on the rather hot Southbridge

  • Only 2 Sata connections

Despite the high number of con's, the setup with the right upgrades will be a killer HTPC. The Atom 230 setup has more than enough power for basic computing needs. Atom 330 adds more muscle and will more then likely find it self in certain “low requirement” servers. Atom 330 would also be a good choice for someone that is into clustering with Linux. In the area that you could fit alot of Atom setups in a small area. The only thing really on my mind now, is when will we see native dual or quad core Atom cpu from Intel. While it is still early for the Atom lineup, one day you may find that DVR or PVR box powered by an Atom CPU.

Email the Author: Michael Evilisizer