It has been an incredibly long time coming, but perhaps the worst kept secret since, well... the iPad has been formally announced today: Nvidia has unveiled Ion2.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Ion2 won't be called Ion2, but simply keep the original Ion branding. The reasons for this are twofold: firstly Nvidia is keen to keep a clarity of message (you don't see laptops sporting 'Centrino 5' by now) and secondly since Ion2 is more of an enhancement of the original Ion than a radical overhaul.
So what can it do? Amazingly Nvidia even now didn't go into specific architecture (even if the Shuttle Barebone XS35 revealed the underlying chip to be a GT218), but stuck to the well rehersed "10 times the graphics performance of standard netbooks" line we heard with the first gen Ion. Primarily this is because the GT218 is only an incremental step up from the 9400 GPU used in Ion, but it is backed up by Nvidia's exciting Optimus smart switching technology which means it goes much easier on battery life. Indeed, Nvidia is quoting up to 10 hours of battery life on a netbook with a six cell battery which isn't any significant penalty over Intel's standard integrated graphics (obviously depending on usage).
The upshot/pitch therefore is users should experience all the benefits of a discrete GPU: Full HD video playback, some basic gaming (think World of Warcraft), etc and yet battery drain should be little less than that of wimpy Intel graphics chip.
Our first impressions of the new Ion were extremely positive with the Acer 532G at Mobile World Congress suggesting it really could be the best of both worlds. With models also due from Lenovo and Asus - amongst many others - this could be the revolution the netbook sector has been waiting for...