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Review: MSI Wind 12 U230: AMD Congo takes the fight to Intel CULV

by Parm Mann on 27 November 2009, 08:30 3.55

Tags: Wind 12 U230, AMD (NYSE:AMD), MSI

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AMD Congo

Yukon's successor, codenamed Congo, hopes to offer full-size notebook-like performance in a small, ultra-thin form factor. In order to do so, it builds on Yukon in two key areas - processing power and integrated graphics.

To make it easier to absorb, here's a brief table highlighting the differences between typical Yukon-based and Congo-based notebooks.

  Yukon Congo
Processor 1.6GHz Athlon Neo MV-40 1.6GHz Athlon Neo X2 L335
Cores Single-core Dual-core
L2 Cache 512KB 512KB
TDP 15W 18W
Chipset 690E + SB600 780M + SB710
Integrated graphics ATI Radeon X1250 ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200
DirectX DirectX 9 DirectX 10

Congo's dual-core processor, codenamed Conesus, is a key upgrade. With a pair of 1.6GHz cores, the chip should be better equipped to compete with Intel's alternative, the ultra-low-voltage Core 2 Duo.

Teaming up with the 1.6GHz Athlon Neo X2 processor is an AMD 780M chipset and SB710 southbridge. It's a downsized version of the desktop 780G platform launched early in 2008, and it brings with it ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3200-series graphics, providing full support for DirectX 10.

It's a potent-looking combination, and on paper it's far more capable than Intel's Atom, whilst graphically superior to many Intel CULV systems, too. But there is at least one proviso - Congo's CPU carries a TDP of 18W, comfortably higher than the 10W figure associated with Intel's CULV parts and far in excess of the 2.5W power draw of a single-core Atom processor. We'll find out if the figures have an adverse effect on battery life later in the review.

Considering that Yukon and Congo are both shrunken-down derivatives of older technology, the power-draw hurdle is one that AMD is unlikely to overcome until the company's Bobcat architecture arrives in 2011.