The article turned out fairly short, but quite extensive. We managed to introduce to you several very interesting hardware pieces that will undoubtedly attract many users’ attention.
First, it was AMD Athlon II X2 250u processor that presents an excellent example of effective downclocking. Without making any changes to the existing processor microarchitecture, AMD managed to create a pretty energy-efficient but also quite fast processor that fit perfectly into the niche between Intel Atom and Intel Celeron. By lowering the core voltage and nominal clock frequency of the Regor core, AMD made Athlon II X2 250u an excellent choice for quiet and compact systems, because this CPU consumes no more than 18 W of power (according to our tests), but performs much faster than Intel Atom. In other words, Athlon II X2 250u is a great product for universal nettops that will be way ahead of Intel Atom based ones in pure performance.
Second, we were extremely pleased with Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G mainboard. We used to complain about the absence of miniature mainboards for AMD processors. So, finally, a long-awaited solution is here. Sapphire offered an excellent multimedia Socket AM3 board, which will definitely find its way into nettops, HTPC and compact systems. Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G mainboard is based on AMD 785G chipset and not only features a high-performance Radeon HD 4200 graphics core, but also provides a range of expansion options including even an external graphics card slot.
And most importantly, Athlon II X2 250u processor and Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G mainboard are a ready-to-go energy-efficient, fast and functional platform that may become a superb alternative to mini-ITX solutions with Intel processors and Nvidia chipsets. A platform like that has every chance of becoming a faster alternative to a pretty popular Nvidia ION, because a computer built around it will be a fully-functional home system rather than just a hardware media player.
However, the platform we discussed today may face two serious obstacles. They are the price and availability. At this time you will hardly be able to buy AMD Athlon II X2 250u or Sapphire IPC-AM3DD785G anywhere in retail. And so far we have no idea if things are going to change any time soon, and if AMD would be really interested in these changes. It could be that AMD is planning to start mass invasion into the market of nettops and other miniature systems like that only in early 2011, when their Llano and Bobcat processors come out, and the today’s Athlon II X2 250u is merely a product designed specifically for some close partners.