Will Intel Stop Ion?

The same day our Ion preview went live last month, a story from Digitimes went live talking about how NVIDIA does not have Intel’s approval to manufacture a chipset for Atom.

As far as my understanding goes, Intel can’t prevent NVIDIA from making chipsets for Atom; NVIDIA already has a license for the FSB (although it's unclear if NVIDIA could build chipsets for the CMOS version of Atom, the Z5xx series). Intel can, however, make it financially undesirable for manufacturers to choose the GeForce 9400M. Intel offers bundled pricing on the Atom + 945G or Atom + Poulsbo chipsets, as well as added incentives for doing things like not using Atom in very large notebooks.

Part of this is to protect Intel’s more expensive processor business, but it’s also to protect the consumer: using an Atom on a larger notebook is going to give you the impression that you can do what you would on a normal notebook, when in actuality you’re running hardware that’s about as fast as something from a few years ago and probably don’t want to.

The bottom line is that as far as I can tell, Intel isn’t preventing Ion from happening. It just may be financially more attractive for an OEM to not build an Ion based netbook.

Final Words

That’s it for this Ion update, I hope to have a platform in the coming months to put through the ringer myself. I’ve got some interesting usage models I’d like to test. NVIDIA assures me that I’ll see one as soon as it’s ready.

I’d like to see an OEM system based on it, but so far I haven’t heard anything about Ion from another other than NVIDIA itself.

Understanding Atom: Three Models for the Same CPU
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  • ameatypie - Thursday, January 22, 2009 - link

    I can agree with the Call of Duty 4 bit... terrible game.
  • phusg - Monday, January 19, 2009 - link

    Yes nVidia I want a netbook that will playback all HD video and can output it over HDMI! Get one on the market, the Asus N10J desperately needs some competition...
  • insaneramblings - Friday, January 16, 2009 - link

    Whenever testing a new platform, particularly small form factors, I'd really like to know the media it can handle. Is this suitable for Standard Definition (SD) playback only? Can it handle BluRay? How about MKV high-definition and AC3? Can it be used as a media extender?

    To my mind telling us how this thing handles COD is a waste. Verifying that it can be plugged into a TV to serve all kinds of media would be very useful.
  • nubie - Sunday, January 18, 2009 - link

    "NVIDIA allowed me to benchmark the two systems in a handful of tests"

    I am going to go out on a limb and assume that nVidia didn't let them test it with BluRay.
  • bohhad - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    was that little black box in his hand at the start of the article a mini pc of some kind? sign me up, and a usb dvd drive and a usb tv tuner and call it a dvr
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link


    The box is basically a technology demonstrator for the CPU/GPU combo.

    Would the GPU be able to help with the use of a USB TV tuner? I'm guessing a single-core Atom couldn't handle the load alone, maybe a dual-core version could.
  • mindless1 - Wednesday, January 14, 2009 - link

    Don't the typical USB TV tuners already convert it to MPEG, to resolve the matter of bandwidth if for no other reason? In that case it should handle it fine with the IGP assisting.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, January 15, 2009 - link

    I know the one I bought on Black Friday called for at least a 1.86GHz Pentium M, I haven't yet tried it on my laptop to see if it will actually run smoothly and how much CPU is needed.
  • tonjohn - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    I'm DYING to have one of these.

    I'm looking for an energy efficient, small footprint computer with HDMI output and this looks like a dream come true.

    Is there any idea as to when products based on ION might be hitting the market?
  • ET - Tuesday, January 13, 2009 - link

    I've played games on my Fujitsu P1510D, which is probably about as powerful as current netbooks. It wasn't fun, I can tell you, but when you're abroad and that's all you're carrying, it's better than nothing. And I always carry a wireless notebook mouse with my, too.

    In fact, one of the reasons I haven't upgraded my P1510D is that it's hard to get something comparable with good graphics. Hopefully with NVIDIA's help it'd be possible soon.

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