Intel Atom 330 Dual-core Processor Review
A surprise CPU review
Earlier in the week I wrote up a review of the NVIDIA ION reference platform that consisted of an Intel Atom processor and NVIDIA GeForce 9400M chipset/GPU. The goal of that platform was to change the way the industry and end users treat the world of netbooks and small form factor PCs by offering a level of graphical and video playback performance not seen in that size before.
What was more surprising was what we found under the hood of the ION reference design that NVIDIA sent us - a dual-core Atom 330 processor that we have yet to see in any other products to date. While all current generation Atom CPUs from Intel are single-core HyperThreaded designs, the Atom 330 has two physical dies on one CPU substrate, each of which is HyperThreaded for a total of 4 threads of CPU power.
Obviously this was quite a surprise to find - we knew that dual-core Atom parts were coming but I didn't really think I'd find them inside an unofficial reference design from a currently unsupported partner of Intel's Atom CPU. I wanted to throw some benchmarks at the new dual-core version right away to see how performance has increased on it with the additional horsepower especially in comparison to the impressive, but never well adopted VIA Nano processor. When I published my review of the VIA Nano and Intel Atom processors in July of 2008, the chips were both very new and designs for either were just barely trickling out.
What we found was that the VIA Nano CPU was far and away a better overall performer though it did use a bit more power to get those results. The Atom CPU fell behind in both integer and floating point math operations, much more in floating point though, making it particularly sluggish in media-based applications. So now, I am curious to see if doubling up on the CPU cores for the Intel Atom is enough to take the performance lead, as well as the implementation lead.
The Atom 330 Processor
As I mentioned above, the Intel Atom 330 dual-core processor we are testing and evaluating was found on the NVIDIA ION platform reference motherboard shown below.
single core Atom processor (the Atom 230 actually) on an Intel