A look at Intel's Atom performance

By Justin Mann on
While early Atom reviews are something that are a dime a dozen and often not worth linking to, some very interesting performance stats regarding Intel's much-hyped processor have come to surface. The slowest Atom that Intel will be selling is based on a 1.6GHz clock frequency and a 533MHz bus, with its primary selling point being the very low power demands. The CPU uses a miniscule amount of power when idling and barely any power when in use, too, with a TDP of only 4W. Handy for extending the battery life or reducing heat in mobile applications, but how does it stand up to real-world applications?

That's what some of the early reviews are finding out, putting the Atom into situations you'd expect it to be in on a day to day basis. Unfortunately for people looking for an “extreme performance” chip that uses no power, it doesn't look like you'll be finding it here – even a slower-clocked Celeron 220 CPU was able to outshine the Atom in many tests, despite it being 400MHz slower. The CPU was outperformed (obviously) by the Core 2 Duo, but also an Athlon 64 X2 and an Athlon 64 single core, only edging out a 1.6GHz Celeron in certain areas. However, the performance figures aren't anything to shrug at – the chip still is able to boast comparable performance to entry-level chips, and it is doing such at a fraction of the power. Faster Atoms are on the agenda for Intel, and for their purpose – mobile applications – the performance per watt ratio on these seems to have gone up considerably.

I look forward to more comprehensive tests once the Atom becomes more readily available. I also especially look forward to seeing how Via's competitor, the Isiah-based Nanos, compare.

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