Nvidia Ion Processor Said to 'Supercharge' Netbooks

Nvidia officials say their Ion processor provides 10 times the graphics performance of the "average" netbook, enabling users to stream HD video from YouTube and play games like "World of Warcraft."

Nvidia's out to make a better netbook, it announced March 2, with the introduction of the Nvidia Ion graphics processor. Said to "supercharge" netbooks, it reportedly offers 10 times the graphics performance of average netbooks and up to 10 hours of battery life.
A discrete GPU (graphics processing unit) with dedicated memory, Ion works with the Intel Pine Trail CPU via PCI Express and is said to support HD video streaming, from sites such as YouTube, and allow smooth gaming, even of intense titles such as "World of Warcraft."
Ion is also paired with Nvidia Optimus technology, which factors into those 10 hours of battery life by delegating whether a chore is a fit for the Intel integrated graphics or demands the Ion GPU.
The Ion processor will first arrive in April in the Acer Aspire One 532G netbook, before launching in more than 30 products, including small-form-factor desktops, motherboards, discrete add-in cards and, Nvidia says, "barebones systems."
The second Ion-featuring device to arrive will likely be the 12-inch Asus 1201PN, followed by the Asus EeeTop 2010PNT and the Lenovo C200 netbooks.
"If you want a netbook with the horsepower to play HD video and PC games, your only choice is Ion," Drew Henry, Nvidia's general manager of GeForce and Ion GPUs, said in a statement. "The new Ion netbooks deliver an unbeatable combination of performance and battery life."
Analyst Rob Enderle, with the Enderle Group, also added in the statement: "Most netbooks have lousy performance, but Ion changed all that. Now Ion netbooks let you do all of the things people expect from a notebook."
The statements are bold ones, considering that performance below that of notebooks-despite being paired with appropriately low prices-has been a major issue with netbooks. While consumers have been drawn to netbooks' price points, many have been disappointed by performance, making rates of returns fairly high-as Best Buy ChiefMarketingOfficerBarry Judge pointed out at the launch of the Nokia Booklet 3G.
(Judge was making the point that the Booklet 3G, too, stands apart from the average netbook.)
Nvidia's channel partners in the Ion launch include AOpen, AsRock, Asus, Foxconn, Giada, J&W, Jetway, Pegatron, POW, Shuttle and Zotac, all of which plan to introduce Ion-based products in the coming months.