NVIDIA Announces the Ion Platform

Nvidia today announced its new Ion platform, which combines Geforce 9400M graphics with the Intel Atom processor. The new platform will give future netbooks and nettops the much needed boost they need to handle HD video and modern operating systems.

The GeForce 9400M is the same integrated graphics solution found in the newest Apple MacBooks and MacBook Pros. Nvidia promises the new graphics solution will increase graphical performance of Intel Atom systems by up to 10 fold, which would allow a game such as Call of Duty 4 to run at a smooth 30 frames per second. The GeForce 9400M will also support high-definition 1080p video playback, accelerated video transcoding and Nvidia's CUDA technology.

With Intel Atom processors designed to be inexpensive and very energy-efficient, it does seem a bit odd to equip a powerful graphics solution in such a lowly system. However, Nvidia states that the GeForce 9400M is very power efficient, resulting in similar a power consumption to the current Intel Atom platform, and that the increased cost will be minimal. Nvidia expects netbooks featuring the graphics solution will be well priced at around $400, with the added performance coming at an added cost of under $50.

Although gaming on tiny netbook still seems bizarre, Nvidia believes consumers will find ways to take advantage of the GeForce Atom (Ion) platform. Whether consumers use the extra speed to watch high-definition movies, play games or simply allow their systems to run modern operating systems, Nvidia wants to give users the freedom they did not have with the regular Intel Atom platform. It is yet to be seen if the new platform will consume some of the market share held by traditional notebooks and desktops, but with five times the graphics performance of the Intel Centrino platform, it seems likely.

Nvidia expects products using the new GeForce Atom platform will hit the market in the first half of 2009. Laptop Magazine has the full story, which includes an interview with Nvidia.

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