Originally introduced as a solution for desktop computers, Nvidia Corp.’s GeForce 9400M core-logic was shortly transformed into Ion platform for Intel Atom processors and advanced multimedia-oriented netbooks and nettops. However, after a year of existence Nvidia Ion does not have a lot of design wins. Nvidia claims the reason is Intel Corp.’s anticompetitive practices, but Intel claims that Nvidia’s chipset simply adds too much cost.
“There are much more innovative ways to get multimedia capabilities that will continue to provide lower power and longer battery life. We believe [Nvidia Ion] adds unnecessary additional cost and the other trade-offs make it less desirable,” said Anil Nanduri, director of netbook marketing at Intel, in an interview with Laptop Mag web-site.
Power consumption of Nvidia GeForce 9400M chip alone is 18W, which is more than two times higher compared to Intel’s first-generation platform (Intel 945GSE + ICH7-M consume 6W + 1.5W in maximum case scenario) and is much less efficient compared to Intel’s new-generation netbook platform code-named Pine Trail: Intel Atom N450 chip (which combines Atom CPU, graphics core and memory controller) with Intel NM10 I/O controller and Broadcom HD video decoder just consume about 10W altogether.
Nvidia Ion platform does provide better functionality than even Intel’s forthcoming Pine Trail: DirectX 10 with mature drivers, hardware video transcoding (decoding is also supported), optional external GPU and support for GPGPU software may be interesting for multimedia enthusiasts. However, Intel has logical objections: nobody will play video games or use demanding applications on netbooks with small screens.
“To run multimedia you don’t need a huge graphics chip. That’s what those third-party decoder solutions will show in the marketplace. […] In terms of usages, netbooks are not meant for gaming. You can run Internet games fine today with the existing solutions,” said Mr. Nanduri.
It looks like the vast majority of consumers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) generally share Intel’s opinion. Despite of Nvidia’s promises that “every major OEM” was designing Nvidia GeForce 9400M/Ion-based machines, at present Nvidia has only eight design wins with its Ion initiative after a year of rather heavy promotion: four netbooks and four nettops from Acer, Asustek Computer, Asrock, HP, Lenovo, MicroStar International and Samsung.
“Our customers have the option to design netbooks how they want to but ultimately the market is going to decide,” said Intel’s marketing specialist.
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.