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HP 2133 Mini-Note PC  (Source: Hewlett-Packard)
HP's Mini-Note to get much faster with a mid-cycle refresh.

When HP announced its swanky new 2133 Mini-Note PC a few days ago, many people were impressed with the design and features of the device. The Mini-Note makes use of an aluminum body, includes a nearly full-size keyboard, has a generous 8.9" 1280x768 display screen, and is available with Windows Vista Home Basic, Windows Vista Business or Novell Suse Linux.

The one peculiarity of the device that had people scratching their heads, however, was the decision to use VIA's old, slow C-7M processors. The Mini-Note is available with C-7M processors ranging in speed from 1.0GHz to 1.6GHz and even the fastest speed bin has trouble keeping up with lower-clocked Intel Mobile Celeron-M processors.

According to HP notebook product marketing manager Robert Baker, VIA offered HP just what it needed in a notebook processing platform. "VIA gave us that right mix of performance and price for the type of environment that this product is going into--content consumption," said Baker to Crave.

Baker also went on to add that timing played a big key in the decision to use VIA's C7-M rather than the new kid on the block: Intel's Atom. "The other key thing was we were designing for education. We had to bring the product to the market now. A slip of a month kills you," Baker added. Baker noted that the Mini-Note is aimed at educational purchases and timing was important, "so they [could] make decisions for purchases they'll roll out during the summer when they're doing the vast majority of their purchases."

Relief for performance concerns may come with a mid-cycle refresh though according to Baker. "There will be an interim refresh about six months in. If the Atom is the right processor, that's what we'll go with. We'll look at everything in the market at that time.”

HP will also consider VIA's mysterious Isaiah processor if it becomes available in time for the refreshed Mini-Note. Although performance numbers are hard to come by, UMPCPortal yesterday gained access to a few CrystalMark benchmarks of a 1.0GHz ultra-low voltage (ULV) Isaiah compared to a 1.2GHz C7-M. Arithmetic logic unit (ALU) and floating point unit (FPU) scores were 280% and 190% higher respectively for the Isaiah processor compared to the C7-M.

Whether HP chooses Intel's Atom or VIA's Isaiah processors for its mid-cycle update to the Mini-Note, it appears that customers will get a much better-performing platform that what will be available in the coming weeks.

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Here's the problem
By Chris Peredun on 4/10/2008 10:41:07 AM , Rating: 5
The initial HP 2133 model is, as we've seen, woefully underpowered compared to its competitors. A low IPC, high-heat in-order VIA processor was a poor choice - there's no other way to put it.

The 2133's performance shortcomings might have been overlooked by an early adopter or someone willing to sacrifice a bit of performance for the rather attractive casing. But having HP admit that they screwed the pooch and will release the New And Improved model with a more logical choice of processor in only six months will torpedo the sales numbers, limiting purchases of the initial models to only those really obsessed with shiny objects, and they may have found a new object to lust over by the time this launches.

Of course, if the first-run unit has truly abysmal sales, HP may pull the plug on the second-generation one entirely.

Quod erat demonstrandum.

RE: Here's the problem
By Proteusza on 4/10/2008 10:46:47 AM , Rating: 3
Doesnt the Atom architecture also strike you as not being big on IPC and needing high clock speeds to achieve performance parity with even Pentium 3 level chips?

I mean, it has a 16 stage pipeline! I have read their reasons for doing so - to avoid cache miss predicts - but still, seems very long.

I wonder how an Atom will compare to this VIA processor.

RE: Here's the problem
By murphyslabrat on 4/10/2008 11:57:13 AM , Rating: 4
--WARNING: the following joke would work far better with a verbal delivery--

Well, Atom came first, and ate the apple; but then Isaiah came, and he heard voices.

RE: Here's the problem
By Samus on 4/10/2008 12:04:44 PM , Rating: 1
Just another stupid platform decision by HP. They haven't made good design decisions for years. Always behind, always wrong.

RE: Here's the problem
By Golgatha on 4/10/2008 12:12:17 PM , Rating: 4
Which is why they surpassed Dell in 2006 and have continued to be the World's largest PC maker throughout 2007. Always wrong indeed.

RE: Here's the problem
By drebo on 4/10/2008 2:39:15 PM , Rating: 2
HP's systems are quite nice.

Their ProLiant servers are the best in the business, as well.

HP is doing quite well for themselves.

RE: Here's the problem
By ninjit on 4/10/2008 4:30:51 PM , Rating: 2
I guess you haven't seen the HP Blackbird then:

I was underwhelmed when I first read HP had bought Voodoo PC, as it just seemed like a tit-for-tat kinda thing when Dell bought Alienware.
But where as Dell hasn't really done much with their new purchase, the birth of Blackbird was very impressive - especially considering that while Voodoo machines were functional they were never very chique.

The Blackbird, however is gorgeous.

Speaking of Voodoo, I haven't seen any posts from Rahul Sood in a while...

RE: Here's the problem
By Ammohunt on 4/11/2008 6:01:17 PM , Rating: 1
4GB max system memory? Pretty lame for a high end $5000 system.

RE: Here's the problem
By waltzendless on 4/10/2008 4:25:25 PM , Rating: 2
I think that HP will probably go with the Atom for marketing reasons, performance aside. Intel's sticker is seen on most computers sold and that Centrino label is also marketing gold. The general public is probably not very familiar with VIA in computers, or their logo for that matter. If any Joe walked into Best Buy and had to chose between two similiar notebooks for his daughter's college gift, I'd think he'd probably be gravitated towards the one with "Intel inside" rather than "VIA we connect".

RE: Here's the problem
By FITCamaro on 4/10/2008 12:36:52 PM , Rating: 3
But having HP admit that they screwed the pooch and will release the New And Improved model with a more logical choice of processor in only six months will torpedo the sales numbers

You forget that a lot of consumers don't read sites like this. They'll just see the device in a store or online and buy one.

RE: Here's the problem
By therealnickdanger on 4/10/2008 2:37:27 PM , Rating: 4
TO: whom it may concern
FROM: the masses

SUBJECT: what I want from my computer

1. Does it run Windows so that it works with everything?
2. Can I check my e-mail?
3. Can I plug my iPod and digital camera into it?
4. Can I watch YouTube videos and visit MySpace and Facebook?
5. Can it do wireless Internet? (you mean Wi-Fi?)
6. Can I pay Geek Squad $200 to load AVG Anti-Virus on it?

The first batch is already sold out to Apple
By crystal clear on 4/10/2008 10:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
The first batch of ATOMS coming out of INTEL go exclusively to APPLE,(customized ofcourse) for their new line of products targeted to back to school season.

Intel estimated that this market could be worth about $10 billion & Apple want a big share of this market.

RE: The first batch is already sold out to Apple
By mondo1234 on 4/10/2008 11:17:03 AM , Rating: 2
Did you see the markup from Intel on this chip?
It only costs them $6-$8 to make and sells for $45-$160 dollars.
What is that.....2000% markup?

RE: The first batch is already sold out to Apple
By FITCamaro on 4/10/2008 12:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
An pair of designer jeans costs a dollar to make and sells for $100. This is nothing new.

RE: The first batch is already sold out to Apple
By Anosh on 4/10/2008 2:51:57 PM , Rating: 2
What?! You cannot compare two different markets like that and draw reasonable conclusions!

By darkpaw on 4/10/2008 3:44:03 PM , Rating: 2
The only conclusion I draw is that people who buy designer clothes are retarded, but then again I've always felt that way.

RE: The first batch is already sold out to Apple
By icrf on 4/10/2008 7:54:28 PM , Rating: 4
No, it works perfectly. You're not paying for the jeans, you're paying for the design. When buying Atom, you're not paying for the actual silicon, you're paying for the R&D that made it possible.

By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly, it's not a sand castle your kid made one afternoon at the beach. Personally I wish they'd sell differently to us sometimes, let one cost $100 but two for $130, and yet that was kinda what happened now that we have multi-core processors.

By Rza79 on 4/10/2008 10:59:47 AM , Rating: 2
They compare a 1.2Ghz C7-M with a 1.0Ghz Isaiah (ULV). The figures in brackets are normalised (clock-for-clock) % increases though, so that doesn't change.

Personally, i think the Atom really won't be that much faster than the C7. I think it will be around 25 to 40% faster, not more (from results i could find on the web). That would mean it's way short to the performance of the Isaiah. And HP can basically drop in the Isaiah on the same motherboard after a BIOS update. Or HP can update the board to the new VX800 chipset and greatly simplify the motherboard design. To top that of, a 1Ghz Isaiah ULV (3.5W TDP) could replace a 1.6Ghz C7-M ULV (around 9W TDP) and still be faster.

On a side note, i did expect the ALU performance to triple but i also expected that from the FPU (after all the noise they made about it). Since i don't know CrystalMark, i can't comment much about the results. But i hope, for their sake, that the FPU performance more than doubles in real life applications, because it's super slow with the C7. I guess benchmarks like CrystalMark don't take the cache and such into account.

RE: Isaiah
By Rza79 on 4/10/2008 11:21:06 AM , Rating: 2
Some more results are released on umpcportals forum:

Isaiah 1Ghz
[ ALU ] 4762
[ FPU ] 2976

Celeron-M @630Mhz (Eee PC)
[ ALU ] 2394
[ FPU ] 2878

1.2GHz Core Solo (Fujitsu P1610)
[ ALU ] 4576
[ FPU ] 5363

1.0GHz Pentium-M (Samsung Q1P)
[ ALU ] 2309
[ FPU ] 2433

1.33GHz Core Solo (Samsung Q1UP)
[ ALU ] 5194
[ FPU ] 6131

Amazing, Isaiah has better ALU performance clock-for-clock than the Core Solo. Lucky for Via FPU performance takes second place in the umpc market.

RE: Isaiah
By FITCamaro on 4/10/2008 12:45:10 PM , Rating: 2
Ok but isn't Atom debuting at like 1.6GHz? And its comparable to a Core Solo. And if its thermals and power usage are lower than Isaiah, it won't matter that it requires a higher clock speed.

Got nothing against the Isaiah chip, just saying. Honestly I'd love to have one of these with a decent processor running Windows XP. The 2GB of RAM model with a 160GB 5400 rpm hard drive for $750 and a better CPU would be a great laptop for working on the couch or watching a movie on a plane.

RE: Isaiah
By psychobriggsy on 4/10/2008 1:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Err, Atom has significantly less IPC than Core Solo, probably about half, due to its in-order design and other design trade-offs to get to a very low power usage.

That's why people have been saying for a long time that an Atom at 1.6 - 1.8GHz would perform like an 800MHz - 1GHz Dothan.

RE: Isaiah
By therealnickdanger on 4/10/2008 2:51:44 PM , Rating: 2
It's entirely possible that Atom will trade some benchmark results with Isaiah, possibly even be beaten consistently, but I honestly can't see Isaiah coming close to beating Atom's thermal/power envelop - which is more appealing to me for a "netbook" device.

RE: Isaiah
By strmbkr on 4/11/2008 11:10:16 AM , Rating: 2
Right now, the performance of the Atom is still in question. Look at this preview by Anandtech (I've linked to the direct page I am referring to)
(page 20, "The Product Lineup and Centrino Atom")
"At 1.86GHz , the Atom should offer performance beyond that of a 1.0GHz Pentium M "
As a note, Intel's presentation about the performance of the Atom seems equivocate; I eagerly await for a review on the Atom and hopefully the Isaiah.

In reality, the sub 1W is only reserved for the ultra low end Atom (which many people have inaccurately assumed to be the characteristic of all the Atom processors).
Power usage optimization is still a key issue, the power savings of the Atom will be rendered moot if it is not done correctly (looks at the Asus eeePC).

By tanishalfelven on 4/10/2008 10:20:29 AM , Rating: 2
isaiah makes more sense since it is socket compatible with C7.

RE: sensible
By erwos on 4/10/2008 10:24:41 AM , Rating: 2
Depends on the thermals, though. But, yes, it does seem to be a good fit.

RE: sensible
By Lonyo on 4/10/2008 10:43:08 AM , Rating: 3
According to the design team it was designed to improve performance while slotting into exactly the same platform, both in terms of socket, chipset and thermals.
So it would/should just be a drop in upgrade. Take out the C7, put in the Isiah with no other changes necessary.

By deeznuts on 4/10/2008 1:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
So basically they're going to Frack the students. Nice.

Atom would be a poor choice
By R3MF on 4/10/2008 1:33:56 PM , Rating: 2
given that Isaiah has much greater performance than intel's new offering and is a drop-in replacement, the choice seems obvious.

although at this stage, i would opt for whichever platform has more graphics power.

By cyyc009 on 4/10/2008 3:38:56 PM , Rating: 2
I'm already envisioning just how poorly this UMPC is going to do on the market. Few will buy a product with such a low end processor. HP should seriously reconsider.

Via has nothing on Intel
By mindless1 on 4/11/2008 7:16:58 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't call myself an Intel fanboy, in that over half my PC armada has AMD/nVidia inside, but looking back over time hasn't Intel completely dominated over Via in every single thing Via has EVER done?

I'm sorry but I find it almost impossible for Via to be doing anything more than a rehash of the past, minimalistic design tweaked to give a few misleading numbers as a marketing tool. I'd not want a single piece of Via silicon in (almost) anything I own, no CPU, no mainboard chipset, no networking processor, etc.

Only exceptions I can think of are certain Envy24 sound cards being a great value, and in the past the 694x Apollo Pro mainboard chipset being a good choice in their respective era because Intel had blundered and offered i815 with only 512MB memory limit or i820 which required costly RDRAM.

On a side note, I don't think the half dozen watts difference in power consumption are necessarily important. I find even the current generation's runtime unacceptible so for me to be a potential customer even the upgraded battery pack would have to be larger. Ultraportable that can't actually run without going back to a wall outlet every 4 hours (and this only on new battery pack not over life of the system) is not so portable to me, not when carrying a power adapter with you may take as much space and nearly the weight as having a larger battery make the form factor thicker.

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