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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

jkOnTheRun: Did Intel pull a fast one with the A1xx processors?

I know that many already think that I'm constantly attacking Intel's A110 up to the point that I'm mentally sick. But it seems to me that I'm not the only one, check this post from James Kendrik: 

That's not a good thing for Intel as devices have starting appearing using the current A1xx processors.  There are currently two flavors of the A-series that run at 600 MHz and 800 MHz.  You would think that using slower processors would be a boon to battery life but I am the first to admit I am disappointed in the performance of these new processors.

The A110 brings a better battery life, in the old Pentium M the maximum you could have got was around 2.5 hours, with the A110 I have seen reports of more than 3 hours. But as you can see, we are talking about 30 to 45 minutes more of battery life.

But there are many factors than need to be analyzed. For example, the 945 Graphic Chipset is not really a lot better than the 915 and you have it running at 1024x600 while the old devices using the 915 were using 800x480. So what ever that chipset added in performance to the new generation is gone because of this higher resolution. So from the point of view of graphics both generations are almost at the same level. Taking this in consideration what's left? Pure processor power and in this case both processors have a common architecture and you have the A110 running at 200 MHz less than the Pentium M used in the old generation. So... there is nothing weird in getting around 20 to 15 % less performance.

In my opinion, Intel did a good job making a processor that could mimic current VIA processors in the market. That was the goal. To have a processor that could give the same battery life and bring about the same performance than current C7 from VIA. And they did a good job on that. You have to look around and read the news of about 6 months ago. You had news about HTC putting a VIA processor in the Shift, you had news about the OQO 02 using a VIA processor, you had news about the Mediom UMPC using a VIA processor. So under that pressure the only logical and fast move was to take a Pentium M and modified a little bit decreasing performance up to the same level than those VIAs and getting the same battery life. Keep in mind that there were two big complains from the press about the 1st Generation: Battery Life and the absence of Keyboards. And this Second generation tried to address both "issues".

Another factor that you have to take in consideration is the OS. This second generation was released when Vista was released and this coincidence had bad consequences. Vista is not the best OS neither for the A110 or the VIA processor. And there are the benchmarks to prove it. Those who installed XP in these machines have a lot better performance. To have Vista running in any of the first generation or second generation machine running at a descent performance you have to spend hours of digging in the OS configuration to set it right. And that's what OEM have failed to do. They just installed the OS and added their crapware to make things worse.

So as results of all these facts all you get is a second generation that disappoint many because of it poor performance.  Like James says in his post, if you look around every single review about the devices using the A110 say the same thing: they are slow.

That's my opinion. 

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