Even though Nvidia Corp. was quoted as saying that Intel Corp. only sells its Atom processors for netbooks and nettops bundled with its own core-logic sets, which is why none of device manufacturers were interested in Nvidia’s Ion platform powered by GeForce 9400M chipset, Intel Corp. denied that it blocks Nvidia from entering the market of ultra low-cost personal computers (ULCPCs).
“We do sell Atom both bundled and as stand alone,” an Intel spokesperson told X-bit labs.
According to Intel officials, Nvidia does not need to obtain a separate license to make and sell chipsets compatible with Intel Atom processors aimed mostly at ULCPCs.
Nvidia recently introduced its GeForce 9400M is a single-chip core-logic for Intel Atom processors 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.
The GeForce 9400M has dramatically better feature-set and performance compared to Intel’s own core-logic sets, but the 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.
Even though performance and features are definitely advantages for mainstream users, they may not be appreciated by users of netbooks, which come with small screens and without optical disc drives. As Intel pointed out, the whole central premise of the netbook usage is basic Internet, browsing, email, social networking, not gaming or usage of demanding applications. Cost is a huge factor on the market of netbooks, hence, Nvidia’s Ion platform that requires DDR3 memory and higher-capacity batteries may not be the best option for systems like Acer Aspire One or Asustek Computer Eee PC.