Notes on Acer Aspire One 522
Not sure where to post this... but there's an AMD thing and a linux thing. So here I am.
I bought an ASUS eeepc 1000ha two years ago for taking notes in classes. The eeepc 1000 runs notepad or kedit very well, and makes a fair fist of Firefox but it's not good for much else IMHO. I liked the small size and battery life though, so have been looking for something similar with better performance.
Yesterday I bought an Acer Aspire One 522 netbook at Futureshop in Calgary. This is Acer's AMD Ontario c50 based product, $CA299 plus Mr. Harper's cut.
Got it home last night, fired it up. It comes with Windows 7 Starter edition, 1GB PC3 8500 RAM, 250 GB disk, a C50 CPU, 10.1" 1280x700 glossy screen, VGA & HDMI out, 3 USB and a card reader, and 802.11, and fast ethernet. The keyboard is some sort of international version, and you may see some stray pipe and backslash chars in what follows because the left shift key is half width with a pipe key beside it, the right return is perilously close to a backslash key. Well, notebook/netbook keyboards, what can you do?
I installed OpenSuSE 11.3 right away with XFCE desktop. It detected most of the hardware but did not know what to do with the graphics adapter, I was stuck with VESA 800x600. The wireless worked, but not the wired ethernet, nor the sound.
Next up the newest Ubuntu 10.x live CD. Again the video controller not recognized (VESA 800x600) but neither wireless nor wired ethernet were recognized nor sound.
I grabbed the kernel 2.6.37 tarball and ran the gconfig for that but could not find any options related to Ontario, Zacate or Bobcat.
So, not much c50 love yet from Linux!
Posts on the intertubes say next kernel release will have Ontario/Zacate support. So I'm downloading 11.x alpha Ubuntu DVD now, which is supposed to be using that kernel code pre-release (I| might be wrong about this, I'm a SuSE guy and don't follow Ubuntu very closely). |I will report on how Ubuntu 11 alpha test goes.
One GB RAM is not much because I tend to have a LAMP stack running or be doing nifty stuff with g++ and template code. |With not much Linux luck, I stuck 64 bit Win7 enterprise on it and went to the local PC store and bought a 4 GB SODIMM (Kingston KVR1066D3S7/4G), and set about opening the case up.
There are 7 screws on the underside. I took them out, noting that they screw into brass sleeves not just plastic which I thought was kind of nice. The case refused to come apart. I turns out that on the bottom is a central rectangular piece of plastic that looks like it is just molded into the bottom of the case but which is actually held in place by internal plastic hooks. Using a flat head jeweler's screwdriver as a wedge I got the four corners of this piece of plastic free, but somewhere in the centre were more hooks I could not get at. The 7 screws serve some purpose other than holding the case together?
I was able to pry one corner up enough to get at the SODIMM slot. With needle nose pliers and a lot of care I replaced the 1GB card with my new 4GB card. Booted the 522 up into BIOS, it reported 4GB RAM. Booted into Win7/64, it reported 4GB RAM with 3.73 usable (graphics controller grabs 256 MB).
At this point I noticed that AMD CCC had gone mad and was using 50+ % CPU. I changed the CCC preset from game to web browsing and CCC settled down - and stayed happy when I changed back to game or the other options.
AMD CCC for Ontario has controls for the CPU and the GPU part of the c50 APU, and for power schemes under AC power and battery. Which is to say all the power, graphics and CPU frequency controls are in CCC for Ontario.
AMD web site does not list drivers for Ontario. Googled "Acer Aspire One 522 driver" and got two Acer.com hits in the top four results. One says "no drivers for this product", the other lists Win7 drivers. I am not sure if the normal desktop HD6xxx drivers from AMD would work. I could not find even a hint of Linux drivers on Acer's site.
I do not know if I should call this machine a netbook: it has 1280x700 screen not 1024x600, but it is about the same size as my eeepc 1000ha. |My comments are based on running Win7/64 Enterprise not Linux.
I can tell you that the performance is subjectively better than the 1000ha (Atom 270 IIRC). The graphics performance is quite excellent, head and shoulders (also torso and probably thighs) above the 1000ha. Things happen on the screen very fast, video playback is very smooth without hiccups running Media Player (DIVX encoded ripped DVD, and also straight VOB files ripped from DVD using DVD Decrypter).
The sound from this machine's speakers is so sad terrible. I'm taking a "you get what you pay for" attitude though.
So I am crossing my fingers hoping Ubuntu's alpha 11 code knows what to do with all the bits & pieces of this machine. And if not I'll be watching the kernel closely for c50 support.
If you want out of the box Linux support with an Ontario APU then I must report you do not have it right now. If you can live with Win7 for now and just SSH into the One True Operating system from an Aspire 522, which is what I'll be doing, then I recommend the 522. It's cheap, it has pretty good graphics, it does not weigh very much, and after typing this screed for an hour while hunting down stray pipes and backslashes, WLAN on and screen at 100% brightness, Win7 says I still have 5hr 11min battery left.