Intel Releases Anti-Nvidia Ion Documents

Those who have been keeping a close eye on the Ion (geddit, eye-on the… oh nevermind), will know that there’s been a small feud brewing between Nvidia and Intel.

Intel is vehemently intent on keeping its Atom processor paired within its own chipset technologies. While there’s no argument that the Atom is very good at what it does -- being miserly on power requirements -- there are many of the opinion that the chipset and GPU that the Atom sits on could be better. Nvidia is one of such opinion, and is pushing its Ion platform as the solution.

We’ve been hearing for months now that Intel isn’t welcoming of the help, placing certain restrictions on OEMs and even Nvidia regarding the use of the Atom processor. Websites bit-tech and Fudzilla now claim to have seen a document from Intel, titled the Nvidia Ion Competitive Position Guide, that aims to dissuade OEMs from selecting the Ion platform.

Intel’s first jab against the Ion is that it’s based off of older Nvidia technologies, calling it “a SKU of the existing MCP79M/MCP7A chipset family (branded in part as GeForce 9400M, GeForce 9400, GeForce 9300, GeForce 9100M G or GeForce 8200M G.” While this is true, one complaint about nearly all the Atom systems available today use the 945GSE chipset.

Intel also said that Nvidia is “attempting to re-use an integrated graphics chipset designed for the notebook and desktop system price points into the netbook and nettop system price points. This in turn leads to higher costs as well as high power consumption.” The document compares the Atom’s current TDP of 8 W against Ion’s 15.5 W.

Of course, those who want the added multimedia capabilities afforded by the Nvidia chipset might be willing to pay a little bit more and live with a reduced battery life. Intel doesn’t believe that market is significant, as it adds, “neither gaming nor video transcoding are relevant to netbook and nettop users,” later concluding, “Don’t buy the hype around Nvidia Ion--it offers no advantages that an Intel platform cannot provide relevant to the Netbook and Nettop market segments.”

Intel does point out that the Nvidia’s “window” to push the Ion is limited too, as the Atom will be gaining an on-die IGP when Pineview hits late 2009.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • bosjee
    All I want is a tiny nettop that can do 1080p. It looks like only Ion can do that now. I will definitely wait for Pineview if it can do that too.
  • A Stoner
    I want better graphics, I want the ability to have access to new technology or old technology in new forms. If ION can make up for the shortcomings of my wife's dell mini 9, then I would like to have one.

    I want the ability to have a better screen resolution than 1280x600. I want the small form factor for travel. Between 6 and 10 inches seems about right. I want to have integrated GPS, ability to play BluRay quality video, and great wifi access. If it can play a nice 3d game or two, that would be icing. Intel is dropping the ball here, and most of that dropped ball is nothing more than Intel preventing the full use of it's Atom processor by vendors.
  • Not that Intel is anti-competitive or a stereotypical evil corporation or anything like that...
  • danimal_the_animal
    "The document compares the Atom’s current TDP of 8 W against Ion’s 15.5 W."
    is intel STUPID!!!! how are they going to compare nvidia's chip set against the atom CPU....try comparing chip set to chip set....duh...

    the atom will be 8 watts no matter what!!!

    the atom plus Intel's chip set draws 33-35 watts

    the Ion chip set of 15.5 plus the atom's 8 watts = 23.5
  • SAL-e

    Can you please explain why you need 1080p on tiny nettop? My calculation shows that if you screen is 10" the 1080p will result in about 216dpi. That is great if you planning to do image processing, but it is really over-kill for video watching. Good video quality is achieved at 72dpi and the excellent would be at 150dpi. Please, I am looking for understanding, not to disrespect you. May be I am missing something here?
  • geoffs
    Sounds like Intel is worried, they should be. Before Intel became a dominant chipset maker, they would have welcomed and co-marketed the Ion. Anything that makes their CPUs look better used to be a benefit, now it's all about how much of the all the markets they can control.

    The document compares the Atom’s current TDP of 8 W against Ion’s 15.5 W
    I don't know where Intel is getting the 8W number (perhaps the Poulsbo chipset), but it's certainly not the almost universally used 945GC/GSE. See the comparison of Intel's reference Atom board to Nvidia's Ion from which the below quote is taken.

    The second impact of the older design is that total power consumption is high. According to Intel, the 945GC’s TDP is 22.2 W, and the Atom 230 + 945GC + ICH7 platform has a TDP of 29.5 W. The GeForce 9400M claims a TDP of only 12 W. The Atom itself consumes 4 W, putting the Ion at 16 W total—just above half the TDP of the Intel platform.
  • geoffs
    Can you please explain why you need 1080p on tiny nettop?
    For output to an HDTV. The Ion would form the basis of an excellent HTPC.
  • KevTheRev
    No market for it? I'm thinking a new Mac Mini or maybe on AppleTV? Intel does realize the Apple switched to Nvidia chipsets for the macbooks right?
  • SAL-e
    geoffsFor output to an HDTV. The Ion would form the basis of an excellent HTPC.Sorry, that was not my question to bojee. I understand the ION platform and I think Intel is shooting themselves in foot by fighting the Nvidia.
    I agree that ION could be cool HTPC, but tiny nettop is useful on you kitchen top and excellent video quality could be achieve at 720p or less. There is issue if you have a 1080p source and you want to transcode it on the fly, but nettops was never attended for that.
  • norbs
    Can't wait for nvidia to start making it's own processors. It would be great; more innovation and lower prices (not to mention a big F.U. to Intel). BTW i am not and amd, nvidia, ati, Apple, Microsoft etc etc fanboy, so don't start...

    I am however a competition/innovation fanboy so go ahead and flame away at that.