The NVIDIA ION chipset bundles a low power Intel Atom processor with high performance NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics. The end result is that you can watch HD video or play some modern video games on a notebook or low power desktop without greatly sacrificing battery life or portability. NVIDIA was already showing off the chipset at CES in January, 2009, but it’s only in the last few months that we’ve started to see nettops and notebooks based on the ION platform reach the market.
So while NVIDIA is already hard at work on the next generation of ION, Fudzilla reports that the company has pushed back the launch date for ION 2 to give NVIDIA’s partners more time to sell products based on the current version. Initially, NVIDIA had planned to launch ION 2, or whatever it will be called, at CES. But now it looks like the company is going to focus on Tegra and other news and hold off on launching ION 2 until later in Q1, 2010.
Fudzilla also has some details about the upcoming version of ION. It will reportedly be a discrete chip that will work with the upcoming Intel Atom Pine Trail chips and offer at least twice as many shaders. The platform’s graphics will be 5 to 10 times faster than Pinetrail’s native graphics processing capabilities.
NVIDIA also says you’ll see devices with 5 or more hours of battery life, but I suppose that will depend on the batteries that PC makers choose for their notebooks.
According to Fudzilla, the ION notebooks will also be capable of running Windows 7 Home Premium while Pinetrail-only devices will be limited to Windows 7 Starter Edition. But I’m not certain this is 100% correct. Unless Intel and Microsoft have changed their arrangement, I think Pinetrail processors will be capable of running any version of Windows 7. But in order to keep costs down, netbooks with Pinetrail processors will most likely ship with Windows 7 Starter Edition which Microsoft will offer as a low cost alternative to Linux. If you want to pay to upgrade you’ll be able to, and some PC makers may decide to offer the fuller featured version of Windows 7 for a higher price.