Yes folks, I’m as surprised as you. AMD’s Brazos 2.0 platform is nothing but a rebrand of the previous family, but there are a few extra bits here and there that may make it worth the purchase for low-cost system builders. Brazos 2.0 still stays under the 18w maximum thermal design power and features the “new” Radeon HD7310 and HD7340 integrated graphics cores.
Because the original Brazos was a great product in its own right, AMD pushed up the clock speeds on both the processor and GPU, figuring that the extra power consumption would still stay within their power requirements. It then re-branded the chips and the graphics cores, figuring that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Hit the jump for my very short analysis.
Brazos 2.0 currently consists of two chips, the E1-1200 and the E2-1800. Both are dual-cores and clock at 1.4Ghz and 1.7Ghz respectively. Its a pity that AMD decided to not include two extra virtual threads as that would have helped Brazos compete against the Intel Atom N2800 featuring four threads. What’s appealing about the platform, though, is the incredibly low power consumption when the chips are in idle. When at full load, the chips ramp up to the clock speed required for their respective usage, e.g. at full graphical load, the GPU boosts up to its maximum clock speed. This makes Brazos 2.0 a good enough update for a rebrand. The E1 and E2 series performs about 10 to 15% faster in most scenarios, but graphics performance doesn’t take much of a leap because the cores themselves haven’t changed.
So what else could be better? The Brazos boards now support USB 3.0 ports and native SD card readers, although that isn’t exactly a technological leap. What it does mean is that we can expect better-equipped Nettops based on these boards and HTPC users would be satisfied with the broad connectivity options and the relatively flexible expansion options. AMD’s Steady Video and Quick Stream technology also hop on board from the bigger Radeon HD7000 brothers, further cementing the board’s media-handling capabilities. Idle wattage even drops down to 750mW, promising up to 5% more battery life to netbook users.
It might not be the kind of upgrade you were hoping for, but Brazos on its own does very well for itself. All that’s left is for AMD to get them into low-cost tablets and keep the netbook love alive – cornering those two markets is a very important to-do on Rory Read’s long list of improvements. Thanks to updates in OpenCL support, the integrated Radeon GPU will also be able to flex more of its muscle in various workloads especially when it comes to low-end content creation and consumption.
All in all, a good enough update and I look forward to seeing where AMD goes with Brazos in future.