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NVIDIA's ION reference platform reviewed, benchmarked
February 04, 2009


NVIDIA's ION reference platform squeezes a 1.6GHz dual core Atom 330 processor and GeForce 9400GM chipset onto a Pico-ITX board inside a suspiciously ARTiGO-like enclosure.


The keyword here is reference - NVIDIA have built a small number of units to demonstrate the graphics chipset that they would like to see power the next generation of Atom-powered netbooks later this year. Sadly, the world's fastest Pico-ITX isn't going to be available in the shops any time soon (or perhaps even at all).

Intel aren't resting on their laurels, and will be integrating graphics directly into the next generation of Atom CPU in the form of their (codenamed) 'Pine Trail-D' platform. Both technologies are expected sometime from the second half of 2009.

All of this is good news for Mini-ITX, as low power consumption mobile technology is fair game to be repurposed onto Mini-ITX motherboards, and both technologies look extremely promising.

The netbook market is many times larger than Mini-ITX, but we may still see a 9400GM chipset on our favourite 17 x 17cm form factor. Intel have supported Mini-ITX with their own Atom Mini-ITX boards recently and we don't expect that to stop with Pineview.

NVIDIA have crammed the ports into their demo ION units, utilising two sides of the case. HDMI, DVI, Gigabit Ethernet and USB on one side, eSATA, more USB and plenty of Audio outputs on the other. Early reviews of the ION show it to have advantages in the 3D graphics, H264 decoding and encoding departments - exactly as you would expect from NVIDIA.

PC Perspective and Hot Hardware both got their hands on an ION and you can check out their reviews here:

PC Perspective looks at the ION

Hot Hardware looks at the ION

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