Virtually all netbooks shipping today feature integrated graphics by Intel as a cost-effective and easily implemented solution. Intel's integrated graphics, while providing a minimal amount of performance, are adequate for most netbook buyers who are looking for an affordable and portable secondary or tertiary system.
Nvidia has wanted to challenge Intel in this growing market, which will ship 35 million netbooks this year. The first step was the release of the 9400M GPU in October, featuring 16 CUDA capable cores and taking up half the space of previous integrated GPUs. However, to replace Intel's integrated graphics, Nvidia needed to replace the entire chipset, which they are planning to do with the Ion platform, featuring the 9400M. NVIDIA expects that designs using Ion will be much thinner and smaller than current systems. It will be used in sub-notebooks under twelve inches, netbooks under ten inches, and small form factor desktop and media PCs.
Microsoft has now certified the Ion platform as being Windows Vista Capable, as its graphical capabilities allow the use of Windows Vista's Aero interface or the upcoming Windows 7. It has also qualified WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) drivers for the Ion platform. Currently, most netbooks run Linux or Windows XP Home Edition.
Netbooks using the Ion platform are expected to be available in the summer. It will face strong competition from the next generation Atom platform, codenamed Pineview.
Pineview Atoms will integrate a GPU core and a memory controller into either the die or chip package. It will be produced on Intel's low power 45nm process, and feature an extremely competitive price at a much smaller form factor. Ion will have to be extremely price competitive, even though it offers much better graphical performance.
Whichever the market chooses, netbooks will be cheaper, faster, lighter, and have longer battery life this summer. The winner will be consumers.
quote: As great as an advancement the Ion is, its not necessity for netbooks, nor will it make them any smaller (perhaps thinner, but not smaller dimensions wise) or faster.(still the same Atom CPU that netbooks with Intel chipsets have)
quote: Plus webcam performance might improve as well, not sure if you have used an Intel IGP, but whenever those IGP's attempt to run anything 3D with a 2D overlay (Perhaps a video time counter mover the video stream?) it suffers from incredible performance losses.
quote: Games like Bejeweled, Tetris, Various card games are all starting to become more and more reliant on 3D Accelerators as time goes on, plus they are perfectly capable of being played on a tiny screen.
quote: That being said, don't expect a boost as a result of the use of Aero. I expect users will quickly find it much slower than having it disabled.
quote: No, but it is a great tiebreaker, or enough to make a waverer purchase. And something I'd have paid for, were Ion available when I needed a netbook to take on trips.
quote: It is clear an Ion-based system isn't going to be desirable to you. Don't know why it bothers you so that people whose needs are different from yours be given the choice to buy hardware that will help obtain them.
quote: Congrats though, on Nvidia being able to get articles on Ion out each and every week, considering that "Netbooks using the Ion platform are expected to be available in the summer."
quote: and WHQL doesnt mean anything, as Ive used certified drivers that cause more crashes than non certified.
quote: However, a company can choose to sign their own drivers rather than go through the WHQL testing process. These drivers would not qualify for the "Certified for Windows" logos, but they would install on 64 bit versions of Vista and install without a warning message on 32 bit versions of Vista and XP.