updated 07:35 am EST, Fri February 20, 2009
NVIDIA Ion for VIA Coming
NVIDIA chief Jen-Sun Huang has said that NVIDIA is well into development of a version of its Ion platform for VIA's Nano processors. Speaking to Digitimes, Huang says the companies had already demonstrated an early example of it in 2008 but are now committed to releasing a production version sometime this year. Details of any differences between this and the Intel Atom reference version haven't been mentioned, though VIA regularly produces reference netbook platforms like OpenBook based on its most recent hardware.
Building the design would give netbook and nettop manufacturers an option of a non-Intel design that has the faster graphics and smaller footprint of the GeForce 9400M at the root of Ion.
However, the move also creates pressure on Intel, which recently sued NVIDIA over what it believes is a false attempt to apply a chipset license. Although the dispute centers on Core i7 and other very new chips, NVIDIA has maintained that the lawsuit is a form of retaliation against Ion. The netbook perform's graphics performance is much faster than Intel's without significantly affecting battery life and potentially robs Intel of its own chipset sales.
A VIA platform lets NVIDIA either have a wholly independent alternative or else push Intel to accept Ion in order to maintain processor sales.