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Review: NVIDIA's ION platform aims to make Intel Atom netbooks better

by Tarinder Sandhu on 17 December 2008, 14:00


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When we took at a look at NVIDIA's new integrated graphics chipsets for Intel's LGA775 processors - GeForce 9300 and 9400 - our thoughts were that the single-chip solution was, comfortably, the best IGP solution for Intel's volume-selling desktop parts.

But looking past the desktop MCP7A, we mused that "as decent as MCP7A looks on the desktop its real worth is in mobile (laptop) form, where a decent IGP can serve as an enabler of basic gaming and cutting-edge multimedia playback. As it so happens, Apple has announced that it will take the laptop variant, MCP79 (GeForce 9400M), and use it in MacBook Pro and MacBook Air laptops, beginning next month. MCP79 will be especially useful in thin-and-light notebooks that have limited room for discrete graphics cards".

The mobile variant, led by Apple's MacBook range, makes a lot of sense for mid-to-high-end laptops that could do with a decent graphics card for multimedia and gaming use, but wouldn't it be even cooler if the same technology could be applied to a different end of the market - the netbook? That's precisely what we conjectured upon last week.

NVIDIA reckons this makes implicit sense, too, as it is announcing, today, a new platform, dubbed ION, that marries the potent GeForce 9400M to Intel's well-received Atom processor.

What that potentially means is a thin-and-light (sub-1.5kg) laptop that doesn't cost the earth but can play basic games and provide much-needed multimedia functionality.

Let's take a closer look.