It may be the year of the tablet, and Nvidia’s Tegra, but when it comes to netbooks, the graphics giant has another Ion up its sleeve, the much anticipated Ion 2 for giving Intel’s pinetrail a bit of a boost up the old backside.
At Hangover, Germany on Tuesday morning, Nvidia officially introduced its latest iteration of Ion, with bombastic claims that this time it would deliver no less than 10 times the performance of bog standard Intel netbooks, with an impressive (but less impressive considering it’s measured on idle) 10 hours of battery life.
And for all you doubting Thomas’ out there asking yourselves how Nvidia could possibly have achieved this wonderous feat, Nvidia has just one word for you; Optimus.
Yes, that’s right, because Nvidia has bunged its new switchable graphics tech into Ion too, meaning that netbooks too can now enjoy switchable graphics the way they were supposed to work in the first place.
“’ok’ is not an experience we want to deliver,” according to Ion product manager Mark Aevermann. “We want to deliver a premium experience complete with full flash and Windows.
“Pinetrail is a disappointment,” Aevermann continued, but noted that with a pinch of Cuda acceleration and a dash of discrete hooked up via PCI Express, netbooks could be much sweeter little machines.
Of course, said Aevermann, it was not Nvidia’s aim to position Ion netbooks as gaming machines, but why shouldn’t users be able to partake in a little mainstream gaming while stuck on a bus, or when bored at lessons in school?
Showing off his inner nerd, Aevermann proudly logged into World of Warcraft on an Ion 2 powered machine and let his troll run wild. “On Pinetrail you’d get about five frames a second for this,” he explained, adding that with Ion users would get some 50-60 FPS.
Nvidia is also particularly proud of the fact Ion machines don’t get lumbered with the decidedly disappointing Windows 7 Starter, instead being capable of running the decidedly better Home Premium version.
Built on the problematic 40nm manufacturing process at TSMC’s fabs, Ion 2 will also come in two flavours; one for 10 inch form factors and the other for 12 inch and above machines.
Nvidia had previously passed over the 10 inch form factor for Ion 1, but has now decided to offer an eight cored version of its netbook GPU for those who want it. Some, however, have already expressed their disillusionment at the fact the eight cored second generation doesn’t add any performance to the first generation.
But Nvidia reckons it specifically designed a less powerful versionof the chip for the smaller form factors and is offering a 16 core version for the bigger netbooks and all-in-ones out there. That, apparently is up to three times faster than Ion originale.
“It’s really more about the experience and less about speeds and feeds,” Aevermann told us, adding that the new version of Ion wouldn’t be much more expensive than the last.
Nvidia reckons it can already stick some 30 design win feathers in its new Ion hat, including the recently announced Acer Aspire One 532G (10-inch and available in April) and ASUS 1201PN (12-inch).
New all-in-one PCs powered by next-generation ION will include the ASUS EeeTop 2010PNT and Lenovo C200.