Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

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Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Aug 01, 2008 8:58 pm

The Intel Atom and VIA Nano processors have been making a ton of noise in the market place as they are inexpensive, energy efficient and fit into sleek and sexy devices that consumers are looking for today. Armed with the VIA Nano processor and the Intel Atom processor, I can now do a direct performance comparison against two of the most talked about processors for 2008.

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I'm sure a fair number of you expected the VIA Nano L2100 to come out ahead because it operates at 1.8GHz, while the Intel Atom 230 runs at just 1.6Ghz, but there is more to it than the 12.5% difference in clock frequency. The VIA Nano processor is based on superior superscalar out of order architecture, which is why it performs better than the Intel Atom processor. The VIA Nano processor beat the Intel Atom processor in every single performance benchmark we ran and that says a ton for the engineers (Centaur Technologies) who designed the Nano processor.


Article Title: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100 - Battle of the Mini-ITX Platforms
Article URL: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/757/1/
Pricing At Time of Print: Intel D945GCLF = $66
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby bubba » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:52 am

The current VIA EPIA SN Mini-ITX board with VIA Nano processor will never be commercially available


Well that sucks, would have made for a nice NAS box.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby stopthekilling77 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:33 am

Small typo I found on the HD Tune v3.10 page
The burst rate on the Inrel Atom 230 based board

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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby skier » Sat Aug 02, 2008 12:29 pm

thats a SMACKDOWN!!
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Observer99 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 1:58 pm

I'm a little surprised at the outcome of this article. It was so focused on performance, that power and power efficiency turned out to be a minor footnote.

The fact of the matter is that power has a significant impact on the processor micro-architecture, right from the beginning of the design. Intel wanted Atom to scale down to sub-watt power envelopes, and in order to do that, they needed to go with a simplistic in-order design (note to author: Atom *is* superscalar, just not out-of-order). That means it will have a tough time going up against an out-of-order processor design like Nano at equal (or near equal) clock speeds.

But that isn't exactly the point.

The point is that Atom spans a range of 0.5W to 4.0W of power, while Nano was designed for the 5.0 to 25.0W range. It had the headroom in the design envelope to be more aggressive in adding performance enhancing features. Though I'll note that other reviews found it underperformed many other out-of-order architectures, including older designs like the Pentium M.

To the end-user, it might not be obvious why they need a low power 4.0W processor on the desktop, when a 25.0W processor can already be powered and cooled in small and efficient designs. I agree with this point of view, and consider the Atom desktop play as more of a low cost approach. It really isn't the target market at all.

Rather, Atom is targeted at ultra-mobile devices and small laptops, like the Eee PC. In fact, the Eee PC 901 uses a 2.5W TDP Atom, which is half the power of the lowest power Nano processor. This review makes no mention of this fact. Nor does it postulate on what the performance and battery impact would be if you compared a laptop with 1.6GHz @ 2.5W Atom versus a laptop with 1.0GHz @ 5.0W Nano.

Very likely, Atom will look like a much better performance play in this case, and the power and battery life would still be better.

I think this review painted an overly performance-oriented view, and ignored the fundamental philosophy around the Atom design.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Zertz » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:03 pm

Observer99 wrote:The point is that Atom spans a range of 0.5W to 4.0W of power, while Nano was designed for the 5.0 to 25.0W range. It had the headroom in the design envelope to be more aggressive in adding performance enhancing features. Though I'll note that other reviews found it underperformed many other out-of-order architectures, including older designs like the Pentium M.

To the end-user, it might not be obvious why they need a low power 4.0W processor on the desktop, when a 25.0W processor can already be powered and cooled in small and efficient designs. I agree with this point of view, and consider the Atom desktop play as more of a low cost approach. It really isn't the target market at all.

Rather, Atom is targeted at ultra-mobile devices and small laptops, like the Eee PC. In fact, the Eee PC 901 uses a 2.5W TDP Atom, which is half the power of the lowest power Nano processor. This review makes no mention of this fact. Nor does it postulate on what the performance and battery impact would be if you compared a laptop with 1.6GHz @ 2.5W Atom versus a laptop with 1.0GHz @ 5.0W Nano.

Very likely, Atom will look like a much better performance play in this case, and the power and battery life would still be better.


You are entirely right, if we look strictly at load numbers. The thing is, those UMPC's almost always idle or do something easy for the processor (word, internet, etc) and both CPU's take roughly the same power in those conditions. Even at full load, Nano takes almost 50% more power, but it gets the work done 30% faster! So if you're using the UMPC for what it's meant for, you shouldn't go full load very often except like when you startup and load an app, which takes just a few seconds.

But yeah.. I'd be curious to see exact power usage vs time to see the total amount both take.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby martini161 » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:22 pm

I agree with ovbserver, IMO comparing these two platforms is like comapring apples and oranges
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby stev » Sat Aug 02, 2008 6:31 pm

martini161 wrote:I agree with ovbserver, IMO comparing these two platforms is like comapring apples and oranges


Apples and Oranges? So when did a computer company called Oranges show up. :finga:

I've been a fan to some extent of VIA. The company has some really niche offerings. Of course Intel can just jump in and trump on things like usual.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Zertz » Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:35 pm

martini161 wrote:I agree with ovbserver, IMO comparing these two platforms is like comapring apples and oranges


They both are fruits!
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Observer99 » Sun Aug 03, 2008 12:51 pm

Zertz wrote:You are entirely right, if we look strictly at load numbers. The thing is, those UMPC's almost always idle or do something easy for the processor (word, internet, etc) and both CPU's take roughly the same power in those conditions.

I haven't seen the actual data to confirm whether the Nano has similar power at idle and light loads, but even if you're right, you can't design a UMPC around the average power of a processor. You still have to account for the power under load, which affects the design of the cooling and thermal equipment, the form factor, and the air flow. Otherwise, your UMPC melts into a puddle of molten plastic and trace metals the instant you run a high power app. :mrgreen:


Zertz wrote:Even at full load, Nano takes almost 50% more power, but it gets the work done 30% faster!

This is the case when Nano is operating at 1.8GHz, but at that speed, the peak power dissipation is close to 25W. In order to run the processor at a thermal point suitable for a UMPC, you'd have to use the 1.0GHz Nano @ 5.0W TDP. At this point, you're losing 40% or more of your performance ( 1.0/1.8 ), and the performance and power efficiency of Atom starts to look pretty attractive.

This was the point I was trying to get at. On the desktop, assuming you can find a Nano at a price that's comparable to Atom, Nano is probably the better deal. In mobile, and especially in the ultra-mobile space, Nano can't get down to the power levels of Atom, and if it tries to get close, it ends up losing all its performance.

Atom still runs at 1.6GHz @ 2.5W of peak power, in the case of the Atom N270 mobile sku. But Nano has to downclock all the way down to 1.0GHz just to run at 5.0W of peak power. Atom also uses a lower power chipset in mobile, which decreases the power versus Nano even further.

Of course, it will be interesting to see how the power affects actual usage of devices built with Atom and Nano, assuming LR or other reviewers find devices with either processor and do some actual benchmarking with battery testing.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Zertz » Wed Aug 06, 2008 7:08 pm

Observer99 wrote:Atom also uses a lower power chipset in mobile, which decreases the power versus Nano even further.


Both of them currently use old chipsets, notice how big the 945 heatsink is, and has a fan too!
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby kappage » Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:21 am

I think intel just got owned?
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby gwolfman » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:46 am

I must have missed this when it was released. But have you tried it with a PCIe graphics card? Something that might be paired with it like an ATi 4650 or an nVidia 9600GT?
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby dicecca112 » Mon Sep 22, 2008 11:51 am

find a board with either of these chips and a PCIe slot, and sure why not.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby Apoptosis » Mon Sep 22, 2008 12:29 pm

gwolfman wrote:I must have missed this when it was released. But have you tried it with a PCIe graphics card? Something that might be paired with it like an ATi 4650 or an nVidia 9600GT?


Yes it worked fine with a PCI Express graphics card... The only reason I didn't test it was because there was nothing to compare it to and the board I was using was an internal engineering sample that was never going into production. The numbers would have meant nothing.
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Re: Intel ATOM 230 versus VIA Nano L2100

Postby gwolfman » Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:58 am

Apoptosis wrote:
gwolfman wrote:I must have missed this when it was released. But have you tried it with a PCIe graphics card? Something that might be paired with it like an ATi 4650 or an nVidia 9600GT?


Yes it worked fine with a PCI Express graphics card... The only reason I didn't test it was because there was nothing to compare it to and the board I was using was an internal engineering sample that was never going into production. The numbers would have meant nothing.

From what you remember, is the CPU powerful enough to play games like Half-Life 2 or Call of Duty 4?
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