I’ll Say This First… Netbooks are Evolving into LANBOOKS!
Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Been pretty lazy to do any photo shoots and I have a quiz and an exam paper to do next week. Well, considering it is a holiday tomorrow, I may just do that omake I said about. I also have not built anything since I was and still quite engrossed by the current developments in my other key interest – computer hardware.
Okay, back to the real point of this post. It will be mostly text so be warned. I might be mistaken about some terms since I’m typing this out on impulse so please correct me if I do make any mistakes and I’ll correct it. I might be uttering gibberish also so sorry about that. :X
A few years back, AMD introduced their Fusion concept whereby a CPU and GPU will share the same die. This means that you’ll get the best of both worlds in one single packaged which is now called an APU (Accelerated Processing Unit). Earlier this month, AMD showed off their Bobcat APUs – Ontario and Zacate. Ontario will have a TDP of 8W while Zacate will have a TDP of 18W. As such, Ontario is for the, you guessed it, the netbook platform while Zacate is for the regular notebooks.
According to current ongoing discussions and discoveries, the graphics performance of the Ontario chip is equivalent to the ATI Radeon HD5470 which seems to be really good and, interestingly, totally defeats the Intel Atom‘s overall performance. Besides graphics performance, the CPU half of the APU shows ~90% of current AMD CPUs at the same clock speed which is truly impressive considering the low TDP of 9W and the altogether die size of 74mm^2.
This shows a good future for netbooks as it will boost its functionality as well as overall responsiveness. As an owner of a netbook myself, I can tell you that it ain’t good enough unless you basically read and do mostly text stuff. No proper HD videos can be seen, except for newer Atom netbooks and those equipped with the hard to find nVidia ION chipset, which can be pretty dissatisfying for some. Adobe Flash just doesn’t work fluidly. I have to avoid doing any flash stuff on my netbook, it is so terribly laggy that it wastes your time trying. It is further hindered by ridiculous restrictions such as 1GB or RAM, 250GB HDDs and now Windows 7 Starter by Microsoft. FYI, Windows 7 Starter is not a good OS for the slow Atom CPU especially with these restrictions. The good news is that dual core Atoms are in the market now which should result in a slightly faster netbook.
Note: Companies that don’t abide to the said restrictions will find a hard time selling the netbooks at the prices you see now. Microsoft will only sell the OS for the netbook at a discounted price as long as you meet their regulations. ^^; Forgot if Intel had a hand in the restrictions though.
My argument for this post is… LANBOOK. With the capability of netbooks finally able to game, though arguably at the lowest settings, we will finally have our lightweight computers that we can bring around easily ready to play multiplayer capable games with your pals. How great is that?
The current dilemma…
Let’s take it from my personal perspective. I like racing games but I haven’t played against a real life person in a long while (used to play at the arcade). I bring my netbook with me practically everywhere I go as it is not a burden and particularly does not add much noticeable weight to my backpack. However, all I do is browse sites and read stuff. Lame, I can barely game. I can’t even run Need for Speed Underground 2 past 20fps at the lowest settings. There goes my racing fun. It can be argued there are so many other games that are playable on the netbook but nothing graphics intensive. Okay, another point in argument next.
How about Facebook? Oh, I know that virtually everyone uses this even though if it is only to check up on your friends. There isn’t a problem for standard Facebook stuff but when it comes to a heavy flash game like Social City, I’m afraid to say it becomes difficult (I quit the game so I don’t really care anymore though). Flash is pretty abundant on the internet, you see them in ads and as page elements of a web page.
Another point in argument will be Youtube and HD videos. Yes, you can see Youtube videos on a netbook but no HD viewing for you. It just doesn’t work well. The CPU will choke to 100% usage and you’ll see a slideshow. HD video viewing is also more impossible on a netbook equipped with Window 7 since it uses more resources as is already. ^^;
I’m not trying to whine here since I’m pretty okay with my netbook since I just browse around doing really light stuff on it. I still have my regular desktop for anything heavier (I have to be at home in my room however). But, with the APU introduced by AMD (which will be available for consumers early next year), I can do more on the go without lugging anything heavier than 1.5KG or need to be close to a socket all the time just because my battery doesn’t last longer than 2 hours (if I were to use a standard notebook). I can do more with a netbook. I can now be able to play some games when I’m bored waiting for the next class while at the campus! Yay! :D
Considering how it will definitely be able to process HD video content, we should expect future netbooks to bring the common screen size to 11″~12″ at a resolution of 1366×768 which is a 720p resolution. Current netbooks mainly have a not good enough screen resolution of 1024×600 (the screen size is okay at 10″ IMO). This should be pretty comfortable for most users, sans most likely older people, since it is the right size to enjoy some HD content on a computer.
The Lanbook term is just something I made up today on impulse though and probably won’t be coined down but I just want to speak my mind out a little bit about the current portable world of multiplayer gaming opportunities with next year’s line up. C’mon, think of the possibility of a huge DoTA or Starcraft II LAN parties and all you need is a small netbook to play. (I admit that I don’t play DoTA and Starcraft II doesn’t have a LAN option currently but just think of multiplayer game like those.) XP
For further reading on AMD’s Bobcat;
Also, Intel is prepping their Sandy Bridge CPUs which also puts a CPU and GPU together at the same release time frame as AMD’s Bobcat which is early next year. However, the parts shown are of the higher-end variety so they don’t compete within the same performance space.