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nVidia Ion Platform Detailed


nVidia Ion Platform Detailed

It seems the rumours were right - nVidia does indeed have an Intel Atom platform. It's called Ion, it's crazy small enough that it should fit not only into nettop systems, but also netbooks and, importantly, should offer much better graphics performance than Intel's 945G platform.

Based around the same 9400M chipset powering the new Macbooks, but on a pico-ITX motherboard. Ion refers to the combination of that chipset and Intel's Atom processor.

Looking at the reference design, it's clear just how small nVidia's platform is. In fact, the board is small enough that not all of the component points fit on one side - so the RAM SO DIMM slot and a single SATA connector are on the reverse to the chipset and CPU. While not superficially the best looking system in the world - those front ports should really be covered - the sample machine really goes to show just how much can be crammed into a small space using 9400M. It's a good indicator of what OEMs will be able to accomplish with systems that are actually made available to buy - which nVidia's wont.

A crazy six USB ports, optical digital and analogue audio connectors, and a pair of e-SATA ports at the front alongside VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs, a further USB port and an Ethernet jack at the back blow all current Intel-based solutions out of the water on the connectivity front.

There there's 9400M's ability to decode up to 25Mbps HD video and output 8 channel (7.1 surround) Linear PCM audio over HDMI. Throw in nVidia's claim that Ion should offer the same battery life as Intel's netbook platform, but taking up half the size and the green team should really be on to a winner!

Over in the US AnandTech managed to get hands on with an nVidia reference sample and were, not unsurprisingly, impressed. I suggest heading over there for more details.

Hopefully I can get my hands on one of these things myself soon - if it packs a dual core Atom, so much the better.


Anand Tech

Go to comments


December 17, 2008, 10:46 pm


A netbook soon that meets my requirements. 10.1" screen max, a hdd large enough to transfer photos and video captured during a trip, HD capable. Small form factor and light like 1-1.2kg. Games unimportant to me. Without paying through the nose for Sony Vaio TT series. Would be a great companion for travelling.

Digital Fury

December 18, 2008, 12:15 am

Considering the timing, I wouldn't be surprised that this is the platform for Apple's rumored netbook.


December 18, 2008, 12:46 am

If Apple actually make a netbook, I am going to be all over it!

They'd better, even though it'll cost millions of pounds.


December 18, 2008, 2:02 am

I think their is more chance of it being in a new mac mini


December 18, 2008, 2:21 am

maybe i'll actually be able to play command and conquer generals... WITH SHADOWS! (gma x3100 will NOT let me do that while making the game playable)


December 18, 2008, 2:36 am

The scientist in me is strangely annoyed by the naming, the tech head part is enthused that finally there is a better alternative to the generic Atom board.

Hamish Campbell

December 18, 2008, 5:33 pm

millions of pounds.....or 4 euros.

mr dog

December 18, 2008, 5:59 pm

i don't think the name should annoy scientists; if you think of it like the processor is the neutron and the northbridge and GPU the electrons then combining those two components into one and effectively 'losing' one electron you are left with an ion.

if my science is wrong TR has the right to delete this comment, it's been a long time since a-level physics and a lot of brain cell-killing liquids have been consumed in the interim


December 18, 2008, 6:40 pm

mr dog - you were very close: 'nucleus' instead of 'neutron' and you're there.


December 19, 2008, 12:49 am

Mr Dog, try this: Atom is hydrogen and the nVidia chipset is an electron, thus giving an abnormal number of electrons to the hydrogen and making an ion. That especially works as ION refers to the platform, not the motherboard.

Better still, it's instability (by dint of being an ion) can be attributed to the recent overheating complaints!

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