Energy-efficiency expressed in power consumption is one of the primary advantages of nettops compared with regular computer systems. Although Atom processor designed specifically for systems like that is not as fast as its microarchitecturally more advanced counterparts, it is an excellent example of Intel’s concern with energy-efficiency. The new Atom modification promises further improvement of the platform energy-efficiency, because it allows to give up a pretty resource-hungry Intel 945GC North Bridge with 22 W TDP that is way higher than the thermal design power of the CPU itself.
Therefore, we couldn’t overlook the power consumption side of the story about the new processor. The following numbers show the total power consumption of the tested platforms (without the monitor). During our tests we used LinX 0.6.3 utility to load the systems.
The practical results confirm our theoretical assumptions. The launch of Intel Pine Trail lowered the power consumption of Intel’s nettop and netbook platforms quite significantly: the overall system power consumption under heavy load dropped by 20%! It is especially impressive considering that this result was achieved even without the use of finer 32 nm manufacturing process for Atom processors. As a result, we can regard the new Intel netbook and nettop platform as a reference point for ultimate energy efficiency. The “simplest” system built around the junior Celeron CPU model consumes 2.5 times more power, as you can see from the numbers above.
ION platform also loses in power consumption tests to the combination of Atom D510 and NM10 Express. It can partially be explained by the fact that Zotac IONITX-A-U mainboard we used for this test session featured an additional WiFi controller. But despite this fact, it is obvious that Pine Trail platform will be more energy-efficient anyway, even with an additional Broadcom HD video decoder. This way, multimedia centers based on Intel and Broadcom components have a very good chance of becoming a more attractive solution than Nvidia ION. However, let’s not rush the conclusions just yet and wait for systems like that to become reality first.