updated 10:35 am EST, Thu December 17, 2009
NVIDIA Ion 2 due February or March
NVIDIA on Wednesday confirmed the development of a sequel to its Ion chipset but set expectations for its release. Calling it only the "next-generation Ion," representatives explained during a conference call that the hardware is in progress but won't be formally unveiled at CES next month. While some partners will likely show systems based on the new chipset at the Las Vegas expo, a formal unveiling isn't slated until sometime later in the first quarter of the year.
The improved graphics core is reportedly being held back as many of the companies using the original Ion only just launched their systems in the fall and want some extra time before introducing the new technology.
Unofficially titled Ion 2, the new hardware is poised to be even faster than promised. A Fudzilla leak asserts that NVIDIA has stepped up the number of shader (visual processing) cores beyond 32 to as much as 40 or more than twice the 16 in the current hardware. The design is fast enough not only to accelerate 1080p video, including in Flash, but also to provide as much of a speed gain over the graphics in Intel's Pine Trail Atom platform as Ion has over today's hardware. Estimates put its performance as much as 5-10 times higher than the new, on-processor Intel graphics.
When it launches, Ion 2 will be targeted primarily at netbooks and nettops based on Pine Trail as it will lack the memory controller and other parts that were part of the original Ion. However, other leaks have hinted that NVIDIA will expand the platform to support CULV processors like recent low-power Celeron, Core 2 Solo and Core 2 Duo variants.