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Mac mini to use NVIDIA Ion, dual-core Atom?

updated 04:35 pm EST, Thu January 15, 2009

Mac mini NVIDIA Ion Rumor

Apple's Mac mini desktop will switch to NVIDIA's Ion platform and Intel's Atom chip as a result, an alleged confirmation by an NVIDIA partner asserts. The Cupertino company is believed to be using the combination graphics and system chipset in an updated computer that would also use the 1.6GHz, dual-core Atom 330. While slower in processing power than the existing Core 2 Duo, the mini system would have video performance close to if not exactly like the GeForce 9400M currently found in all aluminum MacBooks.

The chipset is primarily designed to overcome the characteristically slow visual performance of netbooks and nettops, and supports full hardware decoding of H.264 up to 1080p as well as casual 3D gaming and general-purpose computing tasks. It already supports NVIDIA's proprietary CUDA language for general code but should also support OpenCL when the standard is fully ratified and implemented into drivers or to whole operating systems, such as Mac OS X Snow Leopard.

The switch would reduce the physical size and power consumption of the Mac mini but would also potentially reduce the cost of the system as the bulk price of an Atom 330 for PC builders is just $43. NVIDIA itself officially expects many Ion-based systems to cost about $400 if they use standard hardware, though Apple is known to deviate from reference designs. Company chief Steve Jobs has publicly stated that he doesn't believe Apple can make a $500 system that maintains the Mac's quality standards.

Regardless, Apple claimed by the unnamed sources to have been one of those most interested in Ion and purportedly received samples of working chipsets before any other firm, including some who have yet to receive more than blueprints. The Mac mini could be ready as early as March and would ship sometime near Germany's CeBIT expo, which takes place between the 3rd and 8th of the month.

If accurate, the jump to Ion would represent Apple's first-ever Atom-based Mac but only a partial change in philosophy for the Mac mini, which has regularly been positioned as Apple's entry-level computer for switching users and which has regularly been repurposed as a media server or for industrial purposes. Other rumors have claimed Apple may also make changes that involve dual hard drive options and dual display support.

Apple itself has provided no clues of an Atom switch but has recently leaked that the next Mac mini would use NVIDIA's MCP79, which is the general platform at the root of the GeForce 9400M.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +8

    Mac Nano

    A desktop using this hardware is more like a Mac Nano, which would be awesome, but doesn't sound like a replacement for the current Mac mini.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +9

    Apple, WTF?

    Ok. So they IMPROVE the video performance by switching to this platform, but then hamstring the Mini by going from a Core 2 Duo to an ATOM?

    WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE MINI AT APPLE???

    HE NEEDS TO BE FIRED IMMEDIATELY.

  1. chefpastry

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Nov 2005

    +10

    I doubt it...

    I really doubt this story is true. I can see them using this combination for a new AppleTV, but not the Mac Mini.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    +7

    Mac NetBook?

    Let's hope their interest is in using this for a Mac Netbook, and not the mini. This would be a serious downgrade for the Mini if that's what they do. I suppose it would keep the value of my current C2D mini high should I ever want to part with it (not likely if this is all I could replace it with). OTOH have an additional option (still offering the C2D model) at the low-end that used an Atom would be a good thing.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +6

    Re: I doubt it

    Second that thought (which I hadn't thought about). The mini needs CPU power moreso than video, while the AppleTV needs video power moreso than CPU (esp. if the video handles the decoding).

    But where does the author get the leap of logic in the sentence "The switch would reduce the physical size and power consumption of the Mac mini"? Nothing about this would require a reduction in size of the mini. Last time I looked, the complaints/backlash over the mini and it's size isn't that it's "too big", but that it is "too small" (as in "Hey, if you made the thing 6 inches tall, no one would care, and you'd have room for a second hard-drive").

    Maybe if they kept the size the same, this would allow for easy to replace components. Nah, can't do that. How about a PCI-express slot, then? No, probably not either. People should have to spend $2500 for a computer with a PCI-Express slot in it...

  1. ender

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 1999

    +6

    AppleTV

    I agree with previous posters. I think someone is mixing up their AppleTV and Mac mini rumors.

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999

    +3

    just in case...

    I have had an existing Mac Mini sitting in the shopping basket of an Apple Reseller for a few weeks now in anticipation of the next Mac Mini taking a few undesirable retrograde steps that will see stocks of the current 2Ghz model vanish like gold dust in "Treasure of the Sierra Madre". As soon as news breaks..I might be clicking to buy and bye bye!

  1. Peter Bonte

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -3

    No Apple TV

    Atom can't handle bigscreen TV's, maybe with the help of the GPU but i doubt it would have acceptable 1080p performance.

    Nice chip for the tablet doh. :)

  1. gskibum3

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2006

    -1

    ???

    ???

    Yeah for macnn headlines that end with question marks!

    ???

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    0

    Re: No Apple TV

    Atom can't handle bigscreen TV's, maybe with the help of the GPU but i doubt it would have acceptable 1080p performance.


    Well, we could speculate on this back and forth. Or try to read the article, which reads:

    The chipset is primarily designed to overcome the characteristically slow visual performance of netbooks and nettops, and supports full hardware decoding of H.264 up to 1080p as well as casual 3D gaming and general-purpose computing tasks.


    which pretty much means to me that the CPU isn't doing the decoding, the video hardware is.

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