Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A "Come on, Intel!" Moment

It seems like the more I research the N2600 and its accompanying GPU, the GMA 3600, the less powerful they become. See, the GMA 3600 has a core clock of 400 MHz, which is great compared to previous generations. Problem is, that only applies to the shader and texture mapping units of the GPU. The PowerVR SGX545 core that the GMA 3600 is based on doesn't come with any Render Output units, or ROP's. Intel adds 4 of them, just as the GMA 950 had, and twice as many as the GMA 3150. Here's the rub: they can clock the ROP's at whatever speed they care to use, and they chose 200 MHz. Slowing down the ROP's reduces performance, naturally, enough to keep the GMA netbook series from playing Half-Life 2 (without tweaking). Is it enough to make performance worse than previous generations? Absolutely not. The new GMA 36x0 is better or equal in every way. The margin of improvement is just smaller. In the majority of applications, the GMA 3600 can't compete with the GeForce FX 5600, released over 9 years ago. It's more of a super Radeon Xpress 1150, and even then the Radeon integrated graphics can beat the GMA 3600 in memory bandwidth with a dual-channel DDR2-800 configuration.

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