Nvidia is looking to combine its graphics technology and Intel Atom processor into a new type of platform for mini-notebooks and so-called "netbooks." Nvidia plans to roll out its new "Ion" chip set platform in 2009, which will combine an Nvidia GeForce 9400 GPU along with the Intel Atom processors for mini-notebooks and other types of netbooks. The Nvidia chip set news comes as AMD is also looking to enter the mini-notebook and ultraportable laptop market with its "Yukon" platform in early 2009.
is looking to bring its graphics technology into the mini-notebook and "netbook"
market with a new chip set platform that combines its own graphics processor
On Dec. 17, Nvidia announced its "Ion" platform for
mini-notebooks and netbooks. This chip set platform combines Nvidia's GeForce
9400 GPU (graphics processing unit) along with Intel's Atom processor The
Nvidia GeForce 9400 series GPU is the same graphics processor family that Apple
selected for its new line of MacBooks and MacBook Pros that premiered in October.
While Nvidia is looking to partner with Intel to create new features
and capabilities in netbooks and mini-notebooks, the
company is looking to wedge itself into a market that Intel has dominated since
the debut of the Atom
earlier this year. If PC vendors use the Ion platform
with new mini-notebooks, the Nvidia chip set would displace the integrated
graphics that Intel ships with its own 945GSE
Express chip set for netbooks and other mini-notebooks.
Nvidia has already signaled that it challenge Intel when it
comes to mobile Internet devices or MIDs. In June, Nvidia
launched a system-on-a-chip design called "Tegra" that uses the company's
graphics and an ARM 11 processor for MIDs.
While the GeForce 9400 GPU offers 16 parallel processing
cores, the entire Ion platform will use 18 watts of power. The platform also
supports features such as HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) and dual-link
DVI (digital video interface).
For users, the presence of Nvidia graphics technology with
mini-notebooks and netbooks could mean that they will not have to sacrifice performance
for the low-price and portability that is quickly becoming a hallmark of these
types of laptops. In a statement, Nvidia said its Ion platform would support
1080p high-definition video and support the
user interface for both Microsoft Windows Vista and the upcoming Windows 7
Right now, most netbooks and min-notebooks run either
Windows XP or some form of Linux and can not handle high-definition video.
"It's something that I think PC makers will embrace in that
it could help them to deliver lower-priced notebooks that are still very much
livable for customers in that they delivers reasonable performance in areas
such as showing a videos or even rendering Flash on a Web pages," John Spooner,
an analyst with Technology Business Research, wrote in an email.
"So the bottom line is that, by selecting this chipset,
customers won't be required to sacrifice performance when they choose a
less-expensive laptop," Spooner added. "In this economy that is a very
While still considered a small part of the overall PC
market, more and more IT companies are looking to offer their version of
netbooks, mini-notebooks and ultraportable laptops. In early 2009, Advanced
Micro Devices is expected to launch a new platform called "Yukon,"
will use AMD CPUs and ATI
graphics for a new line of affordable ultraportable notebooks that have screen
sizes of 10 inches or larger.
Other chip vendors, such as Qualcomm, Via and Texas
Instruments are also jumping into the netbooks and mini-notebook markets with
their own platforms.
In a Dec. 18 research note, Hans Mosesmann, an analyst with
Raymond James, wrote that the netbooks market alone will see unit shipments
between 30 million and 40 million in 2009, which could make it a $1 billion market by
the end of the year. Mosesmann also estimated that the average selling price of
the Nvidia Ion platform will be between $30 and $50.
The average netbook or mini-notebook sells for about $350
for now, although companies such as Dell are offering more sophisticated
configurations for a high price. For
example, the Dell Mini Inspiron 12, which uses the Intel Atom
, sells for
about $600. The Nvidia Ion platform is expected to add about $50 to the price
of the average netbook or mini-notebook.
Nvidia did not officially announced when the Ion platform
would be available, although Mosemann's research note indicated a launch by the
first half of 2009. While the primary market for Nvidia's Ion chip set is the
laptop, the company also believes the platform will work in nettops and