Nvidia has pulled the covers off its next generation ION chipset, bringing a host of advantages to users looking for a low power solution. Rumours circulating the Internet had the next-gen chip down as ION2, but Nvidia confirmed to us that it would be simply known as Nvidia ION.
The next-gen chip will supplant the previous version and be found on a number of Intel Atom N450 (Pine Trail) netbooks, nettops and all-in-ones, giving you 512MB of video memory. The new ION also incorporates Optimus technology, so you get the auto-switching advantages of graphics power when you need it and long battery life when you don’t.
Nvidia tell us that the new chip brings 10x to graphics power to a Pine Trail netbook, giving you advantages in both video playback, graphics rendering in gaming as well as video transcoding.
We were lucky enough to get some time with the next-gen ION, to watch a Blu-ray disc being played (from an external drive), as well as YouTube HD and full HD film trailers -all the things a regular netbook won't do.
We also had a quick glance at Monkey Island playing, with Nvidia name-dropping Spore, Sims 3 and World of Warcraft as the sort of games likely to be played. It isn't designed as a gaming chip per se, but will let you do a little more with your netbook or nettop.
Another distinct advantage that Nvidia ION will give is the power to use Windows 7 Home Premium, rather than the bland Windows 7 Starter Edition that most netbooks come with.
The next-gen Nvidia ION has a completely new architecture and comes in two flavours, an 8-core version that will find its way into 10-inch netbooks, and a 16-core version that will feature in larger units, depending on thermal demands. The chip itself is 40% smaller.
The first netbook to launch with the next-gen ION is the Acer Aspire One 532G, announced at Mobile World Congress. Acer tells us that top spec models will be coming in at £399-420, compared to £299 for the 532h, so you do pay a price for all that graphical loveliness, but you will get a 720p HD display with that.
Expect a number of announcements to come out of CeBIT, we already know there will be a 12-inch Asus EeePC 1201PN announced, as well as the Asus EeeTop 2010PNT all-in-one.
Nvidia told us there would be over 30 designs featuring the next-gen ION this year, including nettops such as the EeeBox and Zotac ZBOX.
We will keep you posted.