Monday, January 19, 2009

Intel Atom N270 vs VIA Nano vs Core 2 Duo vs Pentium M Benchmarks for Netbook Performance

I see much confusion when comparing Intel Atom and VIA Nano performance: the VIA Nano processor performs slightly better in number crunching (single thread) benchmarks, again SLIGHTLY! It doesn't mean that a netbook running VIA Nano processors are faster, not at all. Actually the opposite is true in some use cases! Especially with multi-threading applications.

I tell you something: having an Atom or a Nano processor won't influcence that much performance as you can with 1-2 GB RAM and a fast hard disk or SDD.

I personally consider current Intel Atom N270 and VIA Nano processors at the same performance level, little below Pentium M and far below Core 2 Duo processors.
I prepared a couple of charts showing the performance difference Atom/Nano vs Pentium M and Core 2 Duo processors.
The first chart shows SPECint_rate_base2006 and SPECfp_rate_base2006 for
  • Intel Atom N270
  • VIA Nano N2100
  • Pentium M 780
  • Core 2 Duo T7800
  • Core 2 Duo T9500
As you see there is a huge CPU performance difference between the netbook, "low end" processors (Intel Atom/VIA Nano) and more Intel processors that you find in notebook since years.

The core efficiency can be also seen if you consider the benchmark figures divided by GHz and number of cores. This is what I show in next chart: Pentium M and especially Core 2 Duo are far more efficient than Atom and Nano. Of course we didn't expect something different since Atom and Nano are designed for low cost/low performance and especially low power designs.

See also


ProDigit said...

It is just plain stupid to compare a Nano and Atom chip to a Pentium M or C2duo at almost double the clockfrequency.
It would have been better to compare them to a C2D downclocked at 800Mhz, or a pentiumM clocked at 1Ghz.

Seriously, this benchmark shows nothing of the actual tests done with them. Perhaps the results will differ if the task performed is video encoding, or opening many HTML pages in Iexplore.
The graph tells the user very little.

djsm said...

I know what you mean, that's why I created the the second chart: here I compare apples with apples.
SPECint and SPECfp scale very vell with the CPU clock, for this reason I normalized the SPEC score to the actual CPU clock. The result is that, as expected, Intel Atom and Via Nano got comparable core efficiency, far away from traditional netbook processors.
This is actually my message: don't expect a performance boost with the VIA Nano!! Both processors are really the bottom performance of modern CPUs.

haloumis said...

nice review. I am about to buy an Atom PC to run Apache and ftp server. This is a nice benchmark for people who want to know roughly what to expect.