Now, in an interview with Laptop magazine, NVIDIA's jefe and co-founder, Jen-Hsun Huang, adds his two cents into the whole netbook debate.
He reckons that the guts of the current netbook platform, Intel's Atom CPU, doesn't do a whole bunch of things well, including poor support for EA, Microsoft and Adobe software. Presumably he thinks that the introduction of a beefier graphics core will help out here to some degree, which is what ION brings to the table.
Further, he alludes to an ION-enabled netbook costing somewhere in the region of $399 (£300), which, if true for a basic specification, sounds pretty good, but remains coy about the key time-to-market parameter.
Interestingly, when comparing vanilla Atom - N270 CPU and 945-class graphics - to AMD's Neo technology inherent in the Yukon ultra-mobile platform, Huang reckons that Atom would get 'crushed', citing AMD has 'one of the world's most advanced graphics companies'. But he's then reported as stating that 'Atom plus Ion would give Neo a good run for its money'. Yes, of course it would.
In a further poke at Intel, Jen-Hsun then extols the virtues of VIA's Nano processor as being one generation better than Atom, but a lack of software expertise counts against the company, he adds.
Reading somewhat between the lines, NVIDIA's boss doesn't really think that much of Atom as a technology, other than it enables low-cost PCs. Lending a helping hand via the ION program, NVIDIA will save Atom's bacon by making the technology complete from a multimedia viewpoint.
We'd agree to a point, and that point is in having ION-enabled netbooks out real soon, costing no more than £299/$399 for well-featured models. It doesn't really matter if ION comes around if you're interested in the sub-£250 space, because that's the domain of Atom and its supporting chipset. Anything over this and Atom + ION makes sense.... on paper, at least.