Wednesday, January 14th 2009

Intel Atom N280 Details Surface

Back in June 2008, when Intel Introduced the Atom N270, reviewers found its level of performance sufficient for ULPC applications back then. Over a period of six months, it became evident that ULPCs require to deliver a little more than just internet applications. With Intel being reluctant on porting the dual-core Atom to ULPC, owing to its thermal characteristics, there is a need for stepping up the performance level of its relatively cooler single-core Atom.

Therefore, Atom N280. Earlier speculations pointed out that this chip would merely come with a multiplier boost sending its clock speed to 1.86 GHz against 1.60 GHz of its predecessor, but it turns out that Intel was looking to expand the FSB of the existing N270, with a minor clock speed increase. The Atom N280 features a broader 667 MHz FSB against the 533 MHz the N270 comes with. It ends up with a clock speed of 1.66 GHz. While N270 achieved its 1.60 GHz with (12 x 133 MHz), N280 does it with (10 x 166 MHz). Hypothetically, a future model with a 12x FSB multiplier could set the clock speed at 2.00 GHz. What's more, Intel gets rid of the i945GSE chipset infamous for thermal characteristics increasingly unsuitable for ULPCs. It has been replaced with the supposedly cooler GN40 chipset. The N280 has begun surfacing on specification sheets of upcoming ASUS Eee PC models, but it will be only by 2Q, 2009 by the time we start seeing products based on it. Paired with the GN40, the Atom N280 is expected to be priced at US $60-65.Source: DigiTimes
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36 Comments on Intel Atom N280 Details Surface

#1
Apocolypse007
not bad, nice to see some cooler parts and more innovations than just upping the clock speed through increasing the FSB frequency.
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#2
Weer
I wish they would spend their time on the Dual-Core N300 models instead of an overclocked N270. But the GN40 is just what we needed.
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#3
lemonadesoda
Let's hope GN40 and Atom N280 support 64bit, VT, and SSE or GPU media acceleration (e.g. MPEG4, DivX movies)
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#4
tkpenalty
by: Weer
I wish they would spend their time on the Dual-Core N300 models instead of an overclocked N270. But the GN40 is just what we needed.
A dual core atom is not necessary considering how hyper threading abolishes the issue with single core. The main gains from the N280 platform doesnt come from the CPU but the chipset as you said.

Anyone have any specs on the GN40? Hope they'll be using something like a GMAX3100
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#5
Wile E
Power User
by: tkpenalty
A dual core atom is not necessary considering how hyper threading abolishes the issue with single core. The main gains from the N280 platform doesnt come from the CPU but the chipset as you said.

Anyone have any specs on the GN40? Hope they'll be using something like a GMAX3100
Hyperthreading is very inefficient compared to 2 true cores. A dual core Atom would spank all current offerings, even if they disabled HT on dual core models.
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#6
Weer
by: tkpenalty
A dual core atom is not necessary considering how hyper threading abolishes the issue with single core. The main gains from the N280 platform doesnt come from the CPU but the chipset as you said.

Anyone have any specs on the GN40? Hope they'll be using something like a GMAX3100
I hope you're joking. Hyper-threading is border-line useless, and the N270 is border-line slow-as-heck. I, for one, am not buying a Netbook until dual-core Atom CPU's get released.
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#7
lemonadesoda
HT on Atom is a "little bit better" than HT on Northwood, but not much. It's definitely better than nothing, and will help remove "freezes" but it wont add much "performance".

Note that SOME "Z" Atoms dont even have HT.

Atom 330 is dual core already but at 8W it is too hungry for laptops, but OK for nettops.
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#8
PCpraiser100
MOAR SPEED PLZ! I can live with 800 MHz and 2.2 GHz but seeing Intel care too much about efficiency is just plain pointless. Don't fall into the spectrum of ABS (AMD Brainstorming Syndrome) and go for the throat!
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#9
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: lemonadesoda
Let's hope GN40 and Atom N280 support 64bit, VT, and SSE or GPU media acceleration (e.g. MPEG4, DivX movies)
Running a lot of virtual machines on your Atom?:laugh:

Saddly, we are unlikely to see 64-bit support any time soon. Atom's successor might have it, if the netbook/nettop era lasts that long.
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#10
lemonadesoda
VT? Well yep, because I run VT on my MacBook to run windows. No, you dont use an Atom for heavy workstation or server use, or simultaneous OS, but with VT, you can run 2 OSes if and when u need to WITHOUT REBOOT AND OS SELECT. Just switch and use then switch back. LOL.

64bit is on Atom? YES. It's out already. LOL. Just not on all models, and therefore I hope 280 will have it.

LOL. LOL. LOL.
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#11
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Your Macbook has an Atom in it?

The performance of the Atom is already bad enough just running a single OS, adding a second OS, even with VT, would be far beyond what Atom was designed to do.

Far to many people are thinking Atom should be able to do everything a regular laptop processor can. We aren't talking about regular laptops here.
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#12
DaJMasta
by: Wile E
A dual core Atom would spank all current offerings, even if they disabled HT on dual core models.
Not necessarily, while I had thought so for a while, most of the early dual core atom benchies came up with minimal performance gains, and a near 100% gain in power consumption of the chip. While it would help things, don't get me wrong, I don't think it's worth the price for the comparatively small performance gains you would get out of it.

A new chipset is certainly a step in the right direction, that was the weakness of the current Atom platform, but the speed bump is nice too, especially if it's got the same TDP.


Just have to wait for a Core 2 style architecture like the Conroe L Celerons.... even if it's not the full thing, the power per clock would be high enough to give the Atom a great performance boost.
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#13
Mussels
Moderprator
the point is, the atom is too slow for a media PC use in a single core. we need the dual cores for the greater CPU power with H264 files - GPU acceleration just doesnt work on files, we NEED the CPU power.

(that said, i am 100% for the new chipset. the power savings from the chipset could be spent on another CPU core)
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#14
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
The single core Atom is good enough for media applications, when paired with a decent GPU. My N270 does 720p H264 files just fine, and 1080p just kind of stutters with the GMA950. A better GPU would take the video decoding work load off the CPU more.
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#15
Mussels
Moderprator
by: newtekie1
The single core Atom is good enough for media applications, when paired with a decent GPU. My N270 does 720p H264 files just fine, and 1080p just kind of stutters with the GMA950. A better GPU would take the video decoding work load off the CPU more.
at what screen res? My point is more that 1080P has to be catered for, as thats what people are going to use the desktop versions for. Blu ray (disk or rips) 1080P files on a 1080p (or 768P) screen.
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#16
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
What difference does screen res make? The same amount of data has to be decoded from the 720p/1080p media stream. All using a smaller/larger resolution screen does is add in the scaling calculations.

If the Atom was paired with a decent graphics processor, that supported hardware acceleration of HD Video, the Atom would be more than enough for 1080p. This is where I'm hoping nVidia's chipset will come in, as I don't think even the new Intel chipset supports hardware accleration properly.
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#17
DaJMasta
by: Mussels
the point is, the atom is too slow for a media PC use in a single core. we need the dual cores for the greater CPU power with H264 files - GPU acceleration just doesnt work on files, we NEED the CPU power.

(that said, i am 100% for the new chipset. the power savings from the chipset could be spent on another CPU core)
It may be true, but this generation dual core atoms can't offer it. Find a atom 330 review, while some synthetic tests run near 100% performance increase, most real world apps struggle to see 20% gains with the dual core version, with some even turning out slower on the dual core than on the single core atom. Coupled with the drastically increased TDP, it's no surprise no netbook manufacturers have used the 330. That's why a 1.86 GHz chip may be exactly what we need.... if it's the same TDP then you get the same real world performance increase from an almost 20% boost in clock speed. Then with a higher FSB you get more bandwidth to lessen the bottleneck between the CPU and GPU sharing memory that already exists.
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#18
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: DaJMasta
It may be true, but this generation dual core atoms can't offer it. Find a atom 330 review, while some synthetic tests run near 100% performance increase, most real world apps struggle to see 20% gains with the dual core version, with some even turning out slower on the dual core than on the single core atom. Coupled with the drastically increased TDP, it's no surprise no netbook manufacturers have used the 330. That's why a 1.86 GHz chip may be exactly what we need.... if it's the same TDP then you get the same real world performance increase from an almost 20% boost in clock speed. Then with a higher FSB you get more bandwidth to lessen the bottleneck between the CPU and GPU sharing memory that already exists.
Most applications, yes. However, with HD Media, the second core provides a huge boost in performance. Essentially, there is not enough processing power to decode the video and audio streams on a single Atom core, even with HT, 720p is fine and watchable but 1080p stutters too much. There are a lot of people that want to use these for HTPCs/Media PCs.

The only real solution to this is to either add a GPU that is capable of decoding the video, leaving the single Atom core to decode the audio, or move to the dual core Atom, leaving one core to decode the video and one for the audio.

I believe the better chipset is probably the best solution for netbooks, as the power savings is most important here. Either the dual core Atom or a better chipset(ideally both) would work on the nettops, as power savings aren't quite as important since they don't run off battery.
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#19
Mussels
Moderprator
by: newtekie1
What difference does screen res make? The same amount of data has to be decoded from the 720p/1080p media stream. All using a smaller/larger resolution screen does is add in the scaling calculations.

If the Atom was paired with a decent graphics processor, that supported hardware acceleration of HD Video, the Atom would be more than enough for 1080p. This is where I'm hoping nVidia's chipset will come in, as I don't think even the new Intel chipset supports hardware accleration properly.
GPU acceleration simply doesnt work on files. it ONLY works on disks. since none of these nettops come with a blu ray drive, that means that files are the main media type.
Since my AM2 4000+ struggles for 1080P without third party codecs, i highly doubt the slow atom will be able to handle it. Are you talking 720P anime/TV shows, or are you talking high bitrate (15GB+) blu ray rips?

I know for a fact that higher resolution increases CPU load, because i tested it. raising to 1080i added about 10% higher CPU usage on my TV.
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#20
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
by: Mussels
GPU acceleration simply doesnt work on files. it ONLY works on disks. since none of these nettops come with a blu ray drive, that means that files are the main media type.
Since my AM2 4000+ struggles for 1080P without third party codecs, i highly doubt the slow atom will be able to handle it. Are you talking 720P anime/TV shows, or are you talking high bitrate (15GB+) blu ray rips?

I know for a fact that higher resolution increases CPU load, because i tested it. raising to 1080i added about 10% higher CPU usage on my TV.
Both ATi AVIVO and nVidia PureVideo HD support H264 hardware acceleration if you use the proper software, it doesn't matter if it is coming off a disc or directly from a file.

I tested it on my EeePC with the 720p and 1080p rips of IronMan. Resolution didn't matter, if I used the small EeePC screen, or my 1680 monitor, both yielded the same results. 720p played fine, with 85-95% CPU usage, 1080p stuttered badly with 100% CPU usage.
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#21
Mussels
Moderprator
by: newtekie1
Both ATi AVIVO and nVidia PureVideo HD support H264 hardware acceleration if you use the proper software.
Unless you know something i dont, there is no such software that works with MKV files.
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#22
newtekie1
Semi-Retired Folder
Then don't use MKV files, MKV is just a containter file.
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#23
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
to be back on topic i'm kinda sad seeing how i just got my N230+945GC oh well it runs what i need it to run quite well. maybe we will get lucky and some of this will allow bus mods of some sort on the locked down intel D945GCLF mobo
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#24
1c3d0g
Anyone have any info on this new GN40 chipset? Is the more advanced 3D graphics part of the chip licensed from PowerVR again? If so, there's still hope, 'cause anything based on Intel's GMA architecture is total and utter crap.
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#25
Weer
by: newtekie1
Then don't use MKV files, MKV is just a containter file.
What choice do we have? 95% of all video files these days come in MKV format.
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