Tuesday, September 28, 2010

AMD Neo: A Fataly Diluted Brand?

I've been looking for a new laptop. Even as a tech guy, I'm not terribly picky about the specs in my laptop -- that's what a desktop is for. Really, it just needs to be good enough to run a modern Linux distro and let me multitask. The trouble comes when I also want it to be small and light (but larger than most netbooks -- I can't type on anything smaller than about an 11" widescreen). Oh, and I want it to be cheap and have at least 3 hours battery life.

Until recently, I had to compromise somewhere. Ultralight laptops were too expensive, and netbooks were too slow. Luckily, the AMD Neo platform changes things. It is cheap, power efficient, and may or may not feature reasonable performance. Wait, what?

It turns out there are a lot of different AMD Neo processors. The cheapest and most common is a single-core chip comparable to newer Intel Atom CPU's, and I don't want something that slow. The most expensive is comparable to an ULV Core2Duo, except with a higher bus speed that supports DDR3. Check this out:
AMD Neo:
MV-40 - Single core. Passmark benchmark: 388 Supported RAM: DDR2
K125 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 475 Supported RAM: DDR2
K325 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 760 Supported RAM: DDR3
L325 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 804 Supported RAM: DDR2
L335 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 871 Supported RAM: DDR2
L625 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 839 Supported RAM: DDR2
K625 - Dual core. Passmark benchmark: 942 Supported RAM: DDR3

These were all released in the course of about a year. Most common by far in consumer laptops is the MV-40, which is just plain slow. Consumers will associate the Neo name with the Atom name, despite the fact that there are other options which are over twice as fast. This may have been AMD's biggest marketing failure since ... well, since killing the ATI name.


  1. I hate trying to upgrade. I do it every few years and each time its a nightmare trying to figure out a good configuration. I feel your pain.