updated 07:35 am EST, Tue March 2, 2010
NVIDIA promises 2X DirectX 10 graphics, more
NVIDIA today finally confirmed details of its next-generation Ion platform, known informally as Ion 2. Unlike the previous platform, Ion 2 is a dedicated graphics core and not a full chipset. Based on the GeForce G 210M, however, it provides much more speed than the original and without necessarily sacrificing battery life. In basic DirectX 9-level (OpenGL 2) graphics, the new Ion is about 50 percent faster than the original and 15X faster than Intel; in DirectX 10 (OpenGL 3), it doubles its predecessor's performance while Intel never runs at all.
The energy saving comes through Optimus, which switches in real-time between Ion 2 and Intel's graphics depending on the circumstances. It can use the slower but more efficient Intel hardware for regular 2D graphics and invoke the full NVIDIA performance for 3D, Blu-ray, CUDA/OpenCL or Flash 10.1 video. A typical Atom and Ion 2 combo should last for up to 10 hours on battery as a result.
Different versions are available depending on the choice of platform. While a standard 8-core model provides speed for netbooks, a new 16-core version is aimed at nettops where battery life is a non-issue.
Acer is the first to use the hardware in the Aspire One 532g,, which ships in April. Systems like the ASUS Eee PC 1201PN, Lenovo C200 and future systems from companies like Shuttle and Zotac are expected to use it in the near future.
The decision to make Ion dedicated is the result of the ongoing dispute between Intel and NVIDIA, in which Intel has claimed that NVIDIA's Intel chipset license doesn't include any for processors with built-in memory controllers, including the Pine Trail-based Atom platform. NVIDIA has argued in a countering lawsuit that Intel is trying to unfairly exclude a better competitor and has gained the support of an FTC investigation.