According to Nvidia’s General Manager of MCP business, Drew Henry, the first Ion-based PC will be a nettop that will sell for around $299.
The Ion platform, which has passed Microsoft Windows Vista WHQL certification, will be able to support high-definition multimedia graphics processing.
Mr. Henry did mention that Nvidia was considering a possible partnership with VIA Technologies to create a low-cost PC platform, but other than that there’s no word yet availability. It’s expected that the nettop will be shipping June of this year.
Citing un-named notebook makers, DigiTimes says Intel will launch its next generation Atom processor, currently codenamed Pineview, in the second half of 2009. The new chip will come in both single- and dual-core flavors, although the dual-core variant will only be used in nettops, DigiTimes says.
The new chip will be built using a 45nm manufacturing process with built-in Northbridge functions, such as an integrated memory controller and graphics. Intel is expected to pair the new chip with its upcoming Tiger Point Southbridge to create a new, lower cost netbook platform currently codenamed Pine Trail-M.
But not only will future netbooks cost less as a result of Pineview, but they might be smaller too. By integrating the Northbridge with the CPU, Pineview requires significantly less motherboard space by up to 60 percent, bringing the total down from 2,174mm squared (Atom N270 + 945GC) to 773mm squared. The new platform will also cut back the amount of PCB layers from six to four, while also reducing maximum TDP from 8W to 7W.
In other words, look for tomorrow's netbooks to be smaller, faster, consume less power, and easier on the wallet.
MSI has been pretty active on the ultra portable PC front, and seems eager to pioneer in an otherwise uninspiring category of computers. After launching the first hybrid storage netbooks a few weeks back, they are now set to debut the first dual core Atom 330 enabled HTPC. The new MSI NetTop D130 will sport 2GB of DDR2 memory and comes standard with a built in DVD burner and 7.1 channel surround sound.
MSI is marketing this as an alternative to stand alone DVD players and are quick to emphasize how easy it is to hook up to modern LCD or Plasma displays. With a peek power consumption of around 35w, it’s defiantly an appealing package. We will have to hold out on passing a verdict however until we see a price and get to play with one in the lab. Currently it is expected to retail in the $200-$300 dollar range but unfortunately MSI has not finalized the pricing.
For most vendors, the goal of CES was to show off their new smaller and sleeker notebook lines featuring all sorts of tiny form-factors and energy efficient processors – but Lenovo has other plans. Lenovo’s newest piece of tech comes not as a portable, but as desktop. Instead of focusing on a netbook, they put their focus solely on a nettop.
Lenovo’s H200 will be featuring an Intel Atom 230 processor at its heart, handle 1GB of RAM standard and will pack a 160GB hard drive. It’s expected that a machine with a processor such as the Atom won’t be very readily accepted in the United States, but at a price point of $400 in today’s economy it does stand a pretty good chance of doing well.
Intel may have the nettop and netbook markets cornered with its Atom processor, but that could quickly change if PC manufacturers become enamored with VIA's Nano processor, which has been shown to hold its own in benchmarking next to the much more popular Atom. Giving PC makers a nudge, VIA plans to launch its next-generation Nano 3000-series CPU in the third quarter of 2009, with engineering samples being made available in Q1 2009, according to DigiTimes. The new chip will be produced under Fujitsu's 65nm manufacturing process and will be the first Nano processor to support SSE4 instructions.
Also on tap is a dual-core Nano. A previous roadmap showed the two-cored chip going into production in June 2010, which could give Intel a significant headstart should the company decide to port its existing dual-core Atom 330 CPU over to netbooks instead of just nettops. But now it appears VIA will have engineering samples available in the second half of 2009, with mass production to begin by the end of 2009 or very early 2010.
It has not yet been decided whether the dual-core Nano will use Fujitsu's 45nm manufacturing process or Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 40nm process. But no matter which direction VIA takes its dual-core Nano part, the company could put itself in a favorable position if it doesn't run into any delays and makes its two-core chip available for use in netbooks, which have become increasingly powerful as of late.
With the release of Intel's Core i7 lineup, it appeared Intel and Nvidia might be on the path to patching up their relationship as the two finally came to terms with licensing Nvidia's SLI technology on Intel's X58 chipset. But don't call them BFFs just yet.
Nvidia recently announced plans to release its Ion platform, a low power netbook solution which would pair the company's GeForce 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor. According to Nvidia, users would be able to play popular games on the Ion platform, like Call of Duty 4. The only problem is Intel doesn't appear to have any intention of sharing its Atom processor with Nvidia.
According to DigiTimes, an internal statement distributed to hardware makers reiterated Intel's stance that its Atom processors would only come bundled with the chip maker's 945GSE and 945GC chipsets. The news site also claims Intel indicated it has no plans to validate the Nvidia MCP79 chipset on Atom-based platforms, nor does it plan to partner with Nvidia to support nettops or netbooks.
VIA hopes its new three-pronged approach to the low cost computing market will be enough to grab some market share away from Intel, whose Atom-based systems have become synonymous with netbooks and nettops. VIA's calling its mini-ITX 2.0 form factor three-chip HD solution Trinity, which consists of the company's latest Nano x86-64 processor, VX800 IGP chipset, and discrete S3 Chrome graphics.
With the three technologies combined, VIA can boast an 800MHz frontside bus, DirectX 10.1 support, HD video, Blu-ray/H.264/MP4 hardware acceleration, HDMI output, and more, all while consuming less than 70 watts max, with 50 watts being typical, VIA claims.
Should VIA's Trinity solution catch on, Intel could be in for a slug fest in the low power computing market. Previous tests have shown VIA's Nano processor holding its own against Intel's Atom chip, and VIA's platform reportedly runs cooler. On the flip side, Nvidia has recently announced plans to jump into the netbook sector by pairing its 9400M chipset with Intel's Atom processor.
Earlier this month, rumors surfaced suggesting that Intel and Nvidia have been working together to enable Nvidia chipset support for the Atom platform. Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI were each said to be ready to take advantage of the possible collaboration. But the melding of an Nvidia foundation with Intel's Atom processor hasn't yet taken place, and now it appears Nvidia, who previously said it was taking a wait and see approach to the netbook market, is getting antsy to make something happen.
According to DigiTimes, Drew Henry, GM of Nvidia's MCP business, recently took a trip to Taiwan in an attempt to convince Taiwan PC makers to support forcing Intel to allow Nvidia's MCP7A and MCP79 chipsets into Atom platforms. Henry acknowledged the high price-to-performance ratio inherent with Atom processors, but said that limiting the chips to 945GSE and 945GC chipsets will stagnate future development.
With Intel seemingly in no hurry to bring Nvidia on board, Nvidia is pressuring PC makers into demanding that Intel sell them only CPUs instead of bundling CPUs and chipsets together.
Asus today has added to its Eee family with the new Eee Box B203. The new nettop shares much of the same DNA as the company's previous version, except Asus traded in Intel's Atom processor for a Celeron 220 CPU instead. Asus also expanded the storage options, now offering a 120GB and 160GB version alongside the 80GB offered in previous versions.
Familiar specs include up to 2GB of DDR2 memory, four USB 2.0 ports (two each on the front and back), a flash card reader, a DVI output, onboard graphics, and Ethernet and wireless-n connectivity stuffed into a box weighing just over 2 pounds. Running the system is Windows XP.
No word yet on price or availability, but the low-power Eee Box will likely carry a slightly lower price tag than the Atom version.
According to VIA's recently revealed processor roadmap, the company will begin mass producing dual-core Nano CPUs in June of 2010. The late entry would appear to give Intel a significant head start, as the chip maker has already launched its dual-core Atom 330 CPU. But unlike Intel's chip, VIA's dual-core Nano will zero in on both netbooks (notebooks) and nettops (desktops) instead of strictly nettops.
However, Intel might still beat VIA to the punch with Pineview, the company's dual-core Atom part with an integrated graphics solution. That is, if Intel makes the new chip available for netbooks. If not, Intel would be leaving the door open for VIA to step in as the only one to offer a dual-core solution for the uber popular netbook sector. Moreover, despite Nano's lack of penetration thus far, benchmarks typically show the chip outpacing Intel's Atom, albeit while also consuming more power.
Meanwhile, it seems nobody knows exactly what AMD has planned. The chip maker previously announced it was skipping the netbook market, but at the same time would target mini-notebooks. Should the markets overlap, or if AMD has a competitive change of heart, it could make for an interesting three-way battle royal.