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Internet Applications

Browsing the Web is a typical usage scenario for nettops, so we are going to have some web page rendering tests in this review. What makes such tests even more interesting, next-generation browsers are expected to make full use of the APU's resources, i.e. they are able to utilize the graphics core to accelerate the rendering of web pages and to execute JavaScript and HTML5 code. Therefore we are going to perform these tests with the release candidate of Internet Explorer 9 and with the beta version of Mozilla Firefox 4.

The first thing we should note is that the browsers can indeed make use of the various capabilities of the Zacate processor. The APU load graph indicates that the stream processors of the integrated Radeon HD 6310 graphics core are utilized even when we are just simply surfing through websites.

By the way, this is not a unique feature of the Brazos platform. We would see the same picture with any computer where the graphics card (or the integrated graphics core) supports Direct2D and DirectCompute.

Now we will use two tests to obtain numeric results for the performance of the platforms when running web browsers: the new HTML5 benchmark Stimulant WebVizBench and Futuremark Peacekeeper which focuses on the speed of processing JavaScript.

The Brazos platform copes with the web benchmarks better than both generations of IONs, just as we might have expected. The Brazos APUs offer higher graphics performance than Nvidia's graphics cores of the ION platform, so web browsers that can utilize graphics core resources run faster on the AMD platform.

On the other hand, we cannot yet call the Brazos an ideal web platform because not all of today’s web technologies can be accelerated by the APU. Particularly, Flash technology is not supported and works only on the CPU (except when playing video). It means that resource-consuming Flash applications are going to work on the AMD Brazos (and on the ION, for that matter) slowly and with high CPU load. This is confirmed by the results of our tests in the Flash-based 3D massively multiplayer online game Tanki Online. We used Adobe Flash Player 10.2 for that.

Well, the frame rates are low even at low resolutions. The speed of the AMD platform is of course higher but not much higher than that of the second-generation ION.

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