Print 22 comment(s) - last by Khato.. on Dec 23 at 1:30 PM

NVIDIA tries to pull another Apple-like coup in the netbook market

NVIDIA and Intel have a long and checkered past together. The two firms battle in the integrated graphics market, where Intel dominates. NVIDIA covets Intel's integrated graphics business at the same time Intel would like to see its future processors with GPUs built-in oust NVIDIA from computers altogether.

The rivalry between the two firms heated significantly when NVIDIA took Intel's graphics and chipset spot inside the new MacBook computers. Intel has vowed to win the Apple business back even as NVIDIA has vowed to grab 30% of the integrated graphics market with its new 9400M GPU.

Last week, NVIDIA officially unveiled its Ion platform that integrates a 9400 GPU with an Intel Atom CPU. The Ion platform brings the two competing firms together on one platform that integrates an NVIDIA GPU and an Intel Atom CPU for the netbook and small form factor market.

The ironic part about Ion is that it combines the two firm's components into one platform while Intel believes that its integrated graphics, CPU, and chipsets are all that the netbook world needs. Any netbook user will tell you that most machines can handle intensive tasks like decoding HD video. However, many will tell you that the task of rendering HD video isn’t ideal on a netbook.

NVIDIA says that this is because the graphics core of the netbook is underpowered for the needs of today's multimedia users. NVIDIA feels that the lack of graphics horsepower will become more apparent as more netbooks move to larger 10 to 12-inch screen sizes and higher resolutions.

Intel has long desired to keep the netbook out of more traditional notebook space in terms of power and performance to keep from cannibalizing its more profitable Core 2 and other processor lines. On the other hand as CNET News reports, NVIDIA feels that the screen size and other limitations that Intel wants to stick to on a netbook are artificial and are due to GPU restrictions. What NVIDIA has to do is convince netbook makers that Ion is the key to unlocking the potential of the market, without causing the cannibalization of more profitable machines.

As things are shaping up, CES 2009 will be a good indicator of how well NVIDIA is doing promoting its platform. You can bet that NVIDIA was working with OEMs during the design process and new netbook and small form factor computers are set to be introduced at CES 2009 in a few weeks.

Larger computer makers with heavy ties to Intel may be the last to jump on the new Ion platform. Intel is sure to offer the Dell's and HP's of the world significant discounts on bundles to keep Intel GPUs and CPUs in netbook systems.

Due to this, many believe that at CES the most likely firms to show off Ion-based netbooks will be the ASUS' and MSI's of the world. We know both of these firms have new netbooks up their sleeves for debut at the show. Whether or not the new systems will be using Ion will unfold in a few weeks.

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So be it.
By therealnickdanger on 12/22/2008 1:06:34 PM , Rating: 5
Intel has had more than 10 years to improve its integrated graphics offerings and it's been one flop after another. It's not that they can't, it's that they won't. They finally offer something with promise (Poulsbo) and are slow to push it out the door. Why?

Well, I'm happy that NVIDIA has picked up the slack.

I, for one, welcome our new netbook graphics overlords.

RE: So be it.
By deeznuts on 12/22/2008 1:42:23 PM , Rating: 4
To tell you the truth, it's because of their target market. Businesses. They just don't need any graphics prowess. If intel graphics were a problem, Intel would have fixed it by now.

Their core market is fine with integrated graphics the way it is. They are trying new things, Larrabee etc., but that is new territory.

RE: So be it.
By StevoLincolnite on 12/23/2008 1:10:29 AM , Rating: 2
If you mean by "new things" as in a discreet GPU... Intel went down that road many years ago with the Intel i740.

Unfortunately it's drivers were sub-par and the performance matched it, In the end it got pummeled by ATI, nVidia, S3, Matrox and 3dfx. (Maybe PowerVR helped to an extent).

To Intels credit though it was a native AGP part, but it still got beaten by the Voodoo 2 which was using the PCI slot.

The i740 ended up being the basis of Intels IGP's for many years to come, lets hope Larrabee can offer competition to ATI and nVidia to drive down prices.

However I hope Intel has a dedicated driver team to assist Larrabee, it would be a shame if the drivers were as bad as the IGP's.

RE: So be it.
By stevenplatt on 12/22/2008 2:23:06 PM , Rating: 5
Well, I own a netbook (hp mini 1000) and the only way that thing is decoding HD is with VLC. When using more mainstream aplication such as iTunes, HD podcasts do not play correctly.

Although netbooks use the GMA950, it is not clocked the same as a standard notebook. It is usually 200Mhz vs 450 for a standard notebook or desktop and clocks in at about half the performance.

A solutions from NVidia is desperatly needed. Although 12 netbook screens would be missing the point(of a netbook).

RE: So be it.
By Khato on 12/22/2008 3:38:42 PM , Rating: 3
They finally offer something with promise (Poulsbo) and are slow to push it out the door. Why?

Poulsbo has been available for some time, the lack of adoption is purely due to a lack of manufacturer interest. Why? Because it's a $25 chipset and all it does is give better battery life.

The primary selling points of netbooks are price and portability. The ion platform loses out on both of those compared to the Intel platform.

RE: So be it.
By vulcanproject on 12/23/2008 12:29:12 PM , Rating: 2
i agree. this can be a good thing. intel have been using this horrible desktop power chomping chipset with atom and providing barebones graphics. well if nvidia can come up with a platform that can use similar power overall via a more efficient chipset and more powerful graphics, then im all for it. intel shouldnt underestimate the impact of good graphic solutions on small power saving platforms.

RE: So be it.
By Khato on 12/23/2008 1:30:18 PM , Rating: 2
Except for the fact that the 945GSE version that's most oft paired with atom is all of a 9.3W max TDP. I've yet to see NVIDIA disclose a TDP for the 9300/9400 mobile chipsets, but I'd be surprised if it comes in anywhere near that.

No question it'd be a great choice if any sort of graphics performance were needed, but I somewhat doubt that there's going to be much of a gaming market in netbooks... And in that case, all the more that matters are the media capabilities, in which the 9300/9400 definitely win out compared to the 945GSE. However, they're merely equal to Poulsbo with respect to media while drawing probably 5x the power... Heh, and you see how many manufacturers are willing to pay the extra money to use the US15W instead of 945GSE, so why exactly would they pay even more when it adds no practical features?

By MrPickins on 12/22/2008 1:10:44 PM , Rating: 2
How is this supposed to oust Intel from the netbook market when it uses an Intel chip?

RE: Huh?
By Brandon Hill on 12/22/2008 1:18:13 PM , Rating: 2
Intel graphics/chipsets. Right now, Intel has a lock on the CPU, north/southbridge and graphics.

NVIDIA is looking to take over everything but the CPU.

RE: Huh?
By Goty on 12/22/2008 2:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
This could be a good thing for Intel. The profit margin on the Atom is probably significantly higher than on the chipsets being used simply because of the physical size of the die, so improved media performance supplied by NVIDIA might actually lead to higher profits by Intel due to increased sales down the line.

RE: Huh?
By shiznit on 12/22/2008 2:40:03 PM , Rating: 2
If it cuts into Core 2 sales and increases Atom sales, it reduces Intel's profit margins.

RE: Huh?
By Kary on 12/22/2008 5:54:50 PM , Rating: 2

The Atom is CHEAP to make... netbooks hurt Notebook makers, sure, but Intel isn't going to go broke from them

RE: Huh?
By Spectator on 12/22/2008 3:07:30 PM , Rating: 3
Because Intel was dumb enough to produce a "Cheap" cpu to handle all daily stuff.

NV are just yoke'ing intel's strength(cheap resources) to sell more of thier own product. Its just good business.

But on the +side Intel have managed to force NV/ATI(amd) into burning resources on GPU processing, And are no doubt watching situation closely before deciding on larabee core count.

Not forgetting Intel close relationship with MS (that will play out soon with SSD drives).

Intel have one; if not the best fab process in the world. When all this settles down, odds are with intel to be the winner.

Hardware Decoding
By Natfly on 12/22/2008 2:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
Hardware video decoding is done in the driver right? If so, are the linux netbooks able to take advantage of it? I know nvidia provides a binary driver for linux, but does enable allow hardware decoding?

All in all, better performance for the same power draw is a good thing. As long as they keep it cool enough.

RE: Hardware Decoding
By chaos386 on 12/22/2008 4:22:51 PM , Rating: 3
If so, are the linux netbooks able to take advantage of it?

Yes, via VDPAU:

RE: Hardware Decoding
By Penti on 12/22/2008 8:35:29 PM , Rating: 2
Well yes and no. Since it's inofficial unlicensed codecs.

So no OEM-linux OOB will do it.

Some users installing their own operating systems and patent infringing software (not that it should be covered by patents) might be able to make it work. So your dependent on homebrew codecs and proprietary drivers that don't support the homebrew officially. A potential mess. Specially with odd or warez-encoded videos.

Screen size.
By Micronite on 12/22/2008 2:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
NVIDIA feels that the lack of graphics horsepower will become more apparent as more netbooks move to larger 10 to 12-inch screen sizes and higher resolutions.

10 to 12-inch isn't what I would consider larger, but I do think they'll want higher resolutions on these puppies.
Nvidia is smart to push this platform. At one point, people were predicting that notebooks would bring about the death of the desktop. Now I think we'll see the traditional notebook die and we'll have the highly mobile notebooks (like the MSI Wind and EeePC) and highly-customizable desktops.

RE: Screen size.
By blaster5k on 12/22/2008 2:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
I dunno about netbooks replacing notebooks. It all depends on what you're using your machines for.

My laptop is fairly powerful (and portable too at 13.3") since I use it as my primary machine. It has to handle software development, internet browsing, and some media and games. A netbook would struggle in this role. I don't have a conventional desktop. My other computers are a media PC and a home server. If I replaced my laptop with a netbook and desktop combination, I would have a hard time doing some tasks on the go -- or in my living room while watching TV.

Kiss and Make Up Already!
By Quiescent on 12/22/2008 1:10:10 PM , Rating: 1
I think Intel is doing great, and I think this idea of nVidia entering the netbook market is great too. AMD already has ATI, so Intel and nVidia SHOULD be working together now, not opposing each other! There is no way we can have ATI on board with the Intel processors! So I think these two companies should just kiss, makeup, and start working together to make something better than AMD & ATI.

RE: Kiss and Make Up Already!
By FNG on 12/22/2008 2:10:04 PM , Rating: 2
I know right. Because ATI/AMD is murdering Intel and Nvidia in the mobile marketplace. Sheesh, lets get some competition. I am tired of feeling forced to buy integrated AMD solutions.

By Yaron on 12/22/2008 2:26:06 PM , Rating: 2
This is good news for game developers and gamers. The 9400 chip opens the mainstream notebook market for more serious gaming.

Bravo nVidia!

Its all about marketshare
By crystal clear on 12/22/2008 2:54:35 PM , Rating: 2
NVIDIA Ion Looks to Oust Intel Chipsets from Netbooks

The title of this article is incoreect.

Netbooks have experienced a 160 % growth rate & just everybody in the business except for Apple want their marketshare.

So yes Nvida want its marketshare of the netbooks business thats all to it.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs
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