Nvidia Corp. on Wednesday unveiled a core-logic for netbooks and nettops that is compatible with Intel Atom processor and which promises to substantially improve user experience on ultra low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs). Along with the GeForce 9400M chip, Nvidia also launched the so-called Ion platform to lighten the adoption of the new novelty by device makers. But Nvidia’s road to ULCPCs may be rocky.
Nvidia GeForce 9400M is a single-chip core-logic with DirectX 10-compatible GeForce 9-class graphics processor inside that also supports dual-channel DDR3 memory, PCI Express 2.0 x16 and x4 links, Serial ATA, USB, Gigabit Ethernet and so on. As all modern Nvidia GeForce integrated graphics processors, the novelty features hardware-accelerated high-definition video decoding and post-processing as well as supports various outputs, such as dual-link DVI-I, D-Sub, DisplayPort or HDMI.
Nvidia hopes that considerably better features and potentially higher performance of its core-logic will attract attention to its Ion platform. But while Nvidia is right about tangibly better feature-set and performance, power consumption of the GeForce 9400M (18W) is more than two times higher compared to Intel’s own platform (Intel 945GSE + ICH7-M consume 6W + 1.5W in maximum case scenario). Moreover, Nvidia’s GeForce 9400M requires expensive DDR3, whereas Intel’s platforms for Atom processors rely on affordable DDR2.
Netbooks and nettops usually come with small screens, without optical disc drives and without possibility to run demanding applications because of very low performance microprocessors. Hence, end-users will not be able to enjoy video games, high-definition movies or anything else that they can do on their desktops despite of the fact that Nvidia core-logic will be inside.
According to media reports, Intel sells its Atom processors bundled with supporting chipsets, hence, the market of supporting third-party core-logic is absent these days. Additionally, it is unclear whether Nvidia has legal rights to produce and sell Intel Atom-compatible chipsets.
At this point, according to some media reports, Nvidia wants to persuade designers of netbooks and nettops that its GeForce 9400M will make their systems radically more appealing for demanding users and force the world’s largest chipmaker to open up the Intel Atom platform.