More details have been revealed on NVIDIA’s Ion platform, and this is really good news for the future of low-cost netbooks out there. Essentially, the Ion platform is like Intel’s Centrino marketing brand; it basically means it’s a pairing of Intel’s Atom processor with NVIDIA’s 9400M GPU in a small and compact motherboard packaging.
The pairing will finally break Intel’s monopoly of pairing the Atom exclusively with the 945 chipset, which has been criticized for being outdated and irrelevant. With the Ion, NVIDIA hopes to be able to bring a new alternative platform designed from the ground-up to support and expand on the Atom’s capabilities.
The included 9400M graphics chip is nothing stellar, as they can be found in various notebooks today. However by offering this graphics capability to bolster the Atom’s weak multimedia capabilities, NVIDIA is offering computer builders an equivalent system that would have otherwise required the more expensive Intel Core 2 Duo processors. With the Atom, as much as 80% of cost can be saved without sacrificing high quality graphics and performance.
The Ion platform already has HDMI, DVI, USB and Ethernet, and NVIDIA engineers will be adding more features soon, like wireless connectivity. However the inclusion of the more powerful graphics chip would raise question on how this will affect battery life. Anyway, the graphics capabilities of this machine is really powerful when they showed COD4 running on this platform at close to 30fps, which is not too shabby at all – all things considered.