Author Topic: VIA vs. Atom in 810..  (Read 2592 times)

skeptic

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VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« on: April 15, 2009, 07:34:26 pm »
I've been doing some looking at the Atom stuff and it looks pretty good.  However, I've also ran across a few places that compare the new VIA processors to the Atom, and their testing shows the new VIA boards are better overall.  Not only are they roughly 30% faster overall, but according to what I've read VIA is very open about what manufacturers can put on their boards while Intel is being very restrictive.  From one of the articles:

http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=597

"If there is egg to be thrown in anyone's face from this article, it is on Intel for its locking down of the Atom platform.  Since Computex this year I have been hearing complaints from board vendors on the amount of restrictions Intel is putting on them for Atom products.  Vendors are not allowed to build Atom motherboards with PCI Express, digital video outputs or more than one memory slot.  VIA on the other hand is openly courting board manufacturers to put as much technology on a mini-ITX design as they can - as long as the DO build one! "

This article is almost a year old, so maybe things have changed?

I did try doing a couple searches here, but when you search for VIA you get a plethora of stuff like "changing this via doing that" type stuff, and searching for via nano doesn't give much.

I try to keep an eye on this forum, but I miss a lot of posts and searching didn't help much.  Please forgive me if this has been discussed at length already.

In the past there has been some talk about improved chrome drivers, but it seems with the new Atom boards being available the VIA boards have somewhat lost interest.  I guess I'd just like to hear a discussion on these two options.  Pros and cons.  Things like the VIA boards have better performance, but the integrated graphics are poorly supported.  Maybe you can get a VIA system with a PCI slot and toss in a $50 nvidia video card?  Some Atom boards have issues with PXE boot and/or video that locks up...  An Atom based board can only have VGA connectors, no DVI/HDMI (?).  Improvements expected with 810?

Basically, I've come full circle on this.  First I was leaning towards VIA.  Then with all the issues with the Chrome drivers I was just waiting for anything better to come out, either better drivers or another small form factor option.  Then I got all excited about Atom boards.  Now that I've read up on them and seen comparisons with the newer VIA boards I'm back to leaning towards VIA, either with better drivers or even an add-on video card.  Will any of these play 1080p in UI2+overlay?  The more I read the more confused I get.

edit:  of course after I post this I see the thread about the ION NetDevice...  Didn't realize ION was Atom+nVidia 9400.  Not out yet, and looks like it may be much more $$ than current Atom/VIA systems but I guess we will see when it's up for sale on newegg.com etc.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 07:38:58 pm by skeptic »

totallymaxed

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2009, 09:44:39 pm »
I've been doing some looking at the Atom stuff and it looks pretty good.  However, I've also ran across a few places that compare the new VIA processors to the Atom, and their testing shows the new VIA boards are better overall.  Not only are they roughly 30% faster overall, but according to what I've read VIA is very open about what manufacturers can put on their boards while Intel is being very restrictive.  From one of the articles:

http://www.pcper.com/article.php?aid=597

"If there is egg to be thrown in anyone's face from this article, it is on Intel for its locking down of the Atom platform.  Since Computex this year I have been hearing complaints from board vendors on the amount of restrictions Intel is putting on them for Atom products.  Vendors are not allowed to build Atom motherboards with PCI Express, digital video outputs or more than one memory slot.  VIA on the other hand is openly courting board manufacturers to put as much technology on a mini-ITX design as they can - as long as the DO build one! "

This article is almost a year old, so maybe things have changed?

I did try doing a couple searches here, but when you search for VIA you get a plethora of stuff like "changing this via doing that" type stuff, and searching for via nano doesn't give much.

I try to keep an eye on this forum, but I miss a lot of posts and searching didn't help much.  Please forgive me if this has been discussed at length already.

In the past there has been some talk about improved chrome drivers, but it seems with the new Atom boards being available the VIA boards have somewhat lost interest.  I guess I'd just like to hear a discussion on these two options.  Pros and cons.  Things like the VIA boards have better performance, but the integrated graphics are poorly supported.  Maybe you can get a VIA system with a PCI slot and toss in a $50 nvidia video card?  Some Atom boards have issues with PXE boot and/or video that locks up...  An Atom based board can only have VGA connectors, no DVI/HDMI (?).  Improvements expected with 810?

Basically, I've come full circle on this.  First I was leaning towards VIA.  Then with all the issues with the Chrome drivers I was just waiting for anything better to come out, either better drivers or another small form factor option.  Then I got all excited about Atom boards.  Now that I've read up on them and seen comparisons with the newer VIA boards I'm back to leaning towards VIA, either with better drivers or even an add-on video card.  Will any of these play 1080p in UI2+overlay?  The more I read the more confused I get.

edit:  of course after I post this I see the thread about the ION NetDevice...  Didn't realize ION was Atom+nVidia 9400.  Not out yet, and looks like it may be much more $$ than current Atom/VIA systems but I guess we will see when it's up for sale on newegg.com etc.

Hi,

The Ion product you are talking about is the Acer Aspire Revo which basically goes against the proposition you are putting forward;

- Cheaper than existing Atom based and Via hardware designs (under 180UKP including sales tax and shipping here in the UK...and thats a normal retail price)
- Via GPU's are still poorly supported under Linux.
- There are several motherboards with ATI GPU's (ASUS Eee Box B206) and that have HDMI and optical spdif outputs.

So all in all having battled with Via motherboards under LinuxMCE for a very long time I really dont expect to be going back in that direction any time soon ;-)

All the best

Andrew
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skeptic

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2009, 10:44:16 pm »
Hi,

The Ion product you are talking about is the Acer Aspire Revo which basically goes against the proposition you are putting forward;

- Cheaper than existing Atom based and Via hardware designs (under 180UKP including sales tax and shipping here in the UK...and thats a normal retail price)
so the Ion is going to be cheaper than an Atom/VIA setup?  That would be cool.
Quote
- Via GPU's are still poorly supported under Linux.
ya, that's the big problem with them.  Everyone once in a while I see something that alludes to improved drivers, but as of yet I haven't seen anything solid.  Just hoping someone else may have.  On the other hand, there are VIA boards with PCI slots so you COULD get around that with a card, just not sure if it's worth it.
Quote
- There are several motherboards with ATI GPU's (ASUS Eee Box B206) and that have HDMI and optical spdif outputs.
Hmm..  I'll have to dig more then.  Out of habit I just look at newegg, and using their advanced search you can click on various options such as processor type and video out.  I didn't see any Atom systems with PCI or HDMI.  Plus the article I read from July '08 (getting a bit old now) claimed Intel forbids it.  After that I didn't really look elsewhere.
Quote
So all in all having battled with Via motherboards under LinuxMCE for a very long time I really dont expect to be going back in that direction any time soon ;-)

All the best

Andrew
There we go again, I'm back to leaning away from VIA.  I still think it might be worth discussing though, as there are a lot of cheap small VIA based systems and barebones systems. 

Other than the gfx chips which may or may not be an issue with a PCI gfx card, are there any other drawbacks?  They are still more powerful than the Atom chips, at least the comparison articles I've seen which may be old....  I'm only running 720p for now, but I'm looking towards 1080p in the near future and that extra 30% cpu and ability to use an add on PCI video card like an nvidia 8400 may mean the difference between 1080p playback and 720p playback. 

After some googling around I found a few things that state nVidia has finally released drivers that support PureVideo for unix/linux, VDPAU.  This makes all the difference.  If the ION based boxes hit the streets for around the same price (or less) than VIA/Chrome or Atom/Intel gfx, and LMCE supports VDPAU (via Xine/Mplayer) then the choice is simple. 

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2009, 11:17:53 pm »
While we're on the topic (more or less) last time I tested it (a few months ago under 0810 alpha1) UI2 masking worked on my VIA machine with the latest graphics drivers (at the time), unfortunately it was unusably slow but still definitely a good step in the right direction.  As I didn't spent to much time on it I probably could have done a lot more tweaking too.
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totallymaxed

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2009, 11:49:42 pm »
While we're on the topic (more or less) last time I tested it (a few months ago under 0810 alpha1) UI2 masking worked on my VIA machine with the latest graphics drivers (at the time), unfortunately it was unusably slow but still definitely a good step in the right direction.  As I didn't spent to much time on it I probably could have done a lot more tweaking too.


In the past that kind of performance usually indicates that vesa driver has loaded... it does a pretty good job of rendering UI2 + Overlay... but it just cant do it fast enough unfortunately on Via GPU's (or any other either it has to be said). Pity!

Andrew
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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2009, 12:17:28 am »
skeptic -

I'm pretty sceptical of the comments you read about what Intel does and doesn't allow... towards the end of last year there were loads of comments flying around that Intel was refusing to allow nVidia to integrate the Atom into their Atom/9400 ION platform, which was going to kill the new solution they were about to market. Subsequently, both Intel and nVidia said that was nonesense and was never the case. Intel said they don't limit any of their partners from integrating with the Atom in this way. And nVidia is one of Intel's "arch-competitors". Looks like that was just pointless speculation and rumour mill!

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2009, 12:28:05 am »
skeptic -

I'm pretty sceptical of the comments you read about what Intel does and doesn't allow... towards the end of last year there were loads of comments flying around that Intel was refusing to allow nVidia to integrate the Atom into their Atom/9400 ION platform, which was going to kill the new solution they were about to market. Subsequently, both Intel and nVidia said that was nonesense and was never the case. Intel said they don't limit any of their partners from integrating with the Atom in this way. And nVidia is one of Intel's "arch-competitors". Looks like that was just pointless speculation and rumour mill!

I'm happy to say you appear to be correct.  I ran across multiple "sources" including the one I linked to above with supposedly in-the-know information stating Intel would not allow several things.  Basically, stating Intel did not want to jeopardize their more expensive cpu sales by allowing the dirt cheap (and much slower) Atom based hardware the functionality needed to eat into the desktop market.

But here we have the AspireRevo about to come out with HDMI, up to 4G ram, and what appears to be a pretty good nVidia based gfx chip.  All things that were supposedly not allowed. 

totallymaxed

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2009, 12:55:17 am »
skeptic -

I'm pretty sceptical of the comments you read about what Intel does and doesn't allow... towards the end of last year there were loads of comments flying around that Intel was refusing to allow nVidia to integrate the Atom into their Atom/9400 ION platform, which was going to kill the new solution they were about to market. Subsequently, both Intel and nVidia said that was nonesense and was never the case. Intel said they don't limit any of their partners from integrating with the Atom in this way. And nVidia is one of Intel's "arch-competitors". Looks like that was just pointless speculation and rumour mill!
I'm happy to say you appear to be correct.  I ran across multiple "sources" including the one I linked to above with supposedly in-the-know information stating Intel would not allow several things.  Basically, stating Intel did not want to jeopardize their more expensive cpu sales by allowing the dirt cheap (and much slower) Atom based hardware the functionality needed to eat into the desktop market.

But here we have the AspireRevo about to come out with HDMI, up to 4G ram, and what appears to be a pretty good nVidia based gfx chip.  All things that were supposedly not allowed. 

Well I have to say that we're already using the 9300 onboard GPU in some of our products and also the PCI 9400GT card (I have one of these in my home Core) and in both cases the performance is really good and will only get better when VDPAU is exploited by xinelib etc.

Andrew

« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 04:27:45 pm by totallymaxed »
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totallymaxed

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2009, 04:39:45 pm »
skeptic -

I'm pretty sceptical of the comments you read about what Intel does and doesn't allow... towards the end of last year there were loads of comments flying around that Intel was refusing to allow nVidia to integrate the Atom into their Atom/9400 ION platform, which was going to kill the new solution they were about to market. Subsequently, both Intel and nVidia said that was nonesense and was never the case. Intel said they don't limit any of their partners from integrating with the Atom in this way. And nVidia is one of Intel's "arch-competitors". Looks like that was just pointless speculation and rumour mill!

Well we now have our test Acer Aspire Revo and I have to say we are very excited about it. So far we have not explored getting vdpau working on it but we do have nVidia 180.51 and upgraded alsa modules and it is performing really nicely indeed.

My colleague Uplink has got the the Audio over HDMI working on the Revo...this alone is a revelation. We have stereo and full blown SpDif surround working down the HDMI cable alongside the video. We think this should be possible on some other recent nVidia graphics cards and also some motherboards to using the same updated nVidia and alsa drivers alongside some changes to xorg.conf.

We plan to package the sources up for these changes and upload those to the public svn next week so that they can be tested in the 0810 alpha/beta builds asap.

So...back to the Revo; Its a great package. At last we have a compact low energy MD with an integrated and powerful nVidia GPU that already provides great performance and soon with vdpau we should this performance increase by several orders of magnitude making the playback of 1080p HD h.264 content viable without needing a power hungry processor. The 8gig ssd + Linux version of the Acer Revo is on sale here in the UK for 149UKP Inc VAT...its hard to see how you could go wrong buying one of these for use as an MD.

All the best

Andrew
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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2009, 06:07:03 pm »
Holy crap thats exciting, only downside is I will need some usb TV tuners now to go along with it... :( oh and some usb -> serial cables)

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 10:08:34 pm »
wow, that's fantastic news!  I've been sneaking in some LMCE hardware here and there while still concentrating on getting my basement finished.  The timing on this looks great, about the time the basement is finished I should be able to get rid of my comcast STBs, move the core/md to the wiring closet to become a dedicated core, and be able to convince the wife we need a couple new MDs as well as replacing the existing crappy laptop MD in the bedroom with something new. 

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2009, 10:55:22 pm »
i did read that one of this units shorfalls is running flash content from the internet, since currently flash does not use the GPU. So sites like youtube and hulu perform terribly....

As far as video goes, all reviews look good so far thats what we all want anyway.

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2009, 12:45:57 am »
i did read that one of this units shorfalls is running flash content from the internet, since currently flash does not use the GPU. So sites like youtube and hulu perform terribly....

As far as video goes, all reviews look good so far thats what we all want anyway.

Well I think the performance with Flash is mostly ok in my experience with the Revo and other single Core ATOM based MD's. Its certainly not blisteringly fast...but its not unwatchable.

However where this unit excels is in video playback of mpeg2/h.264 content...even without vdpau the Revo does an incredibly good job with video. With the added ability to combine HD & Audio out of the HDMI connector you are really starting to get great capability...for an incredibly low price.

I have not tested any games on the Revo...but I would think that it will be ok for the casual gamer...but its not a heavyweight gaming box and anyone expecting top end gaming on the Revo is going to be very disappointed.

All the best

Andrew
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skeptic

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2009, 04:41:07 am »
BTW, what all is required for h.264 gpu playback?  Does it have to conform to very specific standards or is pretty much any h.264 video ok?  I transcode all my DVDs to h.264/ac3/avi format because mkv has a problem with green garbage and this format gives great results on screen and is compatible with my Archos.

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Re: VIA vs. Atom in 810..
« Reply #14 on: May 15, 2009, 09:37:43 am »
BTW, what all is required for h.264 gpu playback?  Does it have to conform to very specific standards or is pretty much any h.264 video ok?  I transcode all my DVDs to h.264/ac3/avi format because mkv has a problem with green garbage and this format gives great results on screen and is compatible with my Archos.

As far as I know any h.264 encoded content will benefit from the vdpau enabled hardware acceleration...as will mpeg2 content to a lesser extent.

All the best

Andrew
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