Video: Nvidia Laughs At Intel’s Next Generation Netbook Platform “Pine Trail”

Nvidia's claims that Intel's next-generation netbook platform dubbed Pine Trail can't play Flash HD content or Blue-ray movies and mainstream games

At a meeting in San Francisco today, I sat down with Nvidia’s director of marketing David Ragones for an update on the company’s netbook solution, ION, unveiled a year ago.

Although ION is about a year old, Nvidia claims that last year’s ION is still 5 to 10 times faster than Intel’s next-generation netbook platform, dubbed Pine Trail and available in next year’s netbooks.

“Intel hasn’t closed the gap. So they’re now coming out with their next-generation but the media performance is still relatively poor”, says Ragones.

And we’ll have more on Pine Trail tomorrow after a media briefing Intel is hosting, also in downtown San Francisco (yes that’s the week!), where the chipmaker will probably show some Pine Trail equipped netbooks and hopefully some performance numbers.

Until then, we’ll have to take Nvidia’s words for it.

Despite positioning ION at the premium segment of the netbook market ($399 and above), Nvidia claims that as much as 100 netbook models equipped with its graphics chip.

“ION energises the Intel Atom processor. It’s perfect if what you want to do is view HD content, play mainstream games and do simple image and video editing tasks”, adds Ragones that used the Sims video game to prove his point. “Sims 3 is the number 1 top selling game in the world, and this is a game you can only run on an ION netbook.”

Follows a video excerpts of my conversation with Ragones.

Intel Pays OEMs To Keep Nvidia Out Of Netbook, Atom Market

Nvidias ION netbook platform surpasses even Intels latest consumer ultra-low voltage system

Nvidia's ION netbook platform surpasses even Intel's latest consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) system to ship next quarter!

The secret is finally out.

At Nvidia’s analyst conference today, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang explained how Intel is trying to keep Nvidia out of the Atom-based netbook market it entered late last year with its ION platform, boosting the graphics and video performance of a netbook to a point it rivals higher-end laptops.

According to Huang, it costs $75 for a PC manufacturer or OEM to buy both Intel’s Atom processor ($40) and Nvidia’s ION platform ($35).

“But if you buy Atom and use the 2 other chips (including an integrated graphics chip) that come with it, it’s $25. So the 2 chipsets we are competing against ION is negative 30 dollars,” said Huang.

In order words, Intel is giving away $30 to OEMs for not buying Nvidia!

“If a company is willing to give you $30 for every unit that you buy, you just have to buy enough and you’ll be rich. I might even be their largest customer,” jokes Nvidia’s CEO.

Despite Intel’s “extraordinary” subsidies, Nvidia still managed to convince dozens of OEMs to adopt its ION platform, including Acer and Lenovo, because there are some markets where free is not enough. “And those are my customers,” adds Huang.

“If someone offers an MP3 player for free… as the electronics cost of an MP3 player is approximately nothing… yet there are still people who go and pay $79 for [an iPod]!”

But Nvidia is no Apple despite Huang’s multiple references to the Cupertino, Calif.-computer maker.

Here’s a video excerpt of CEO Jen-Hsun Huang comments on Intel’s anti-competitive actions to keep Nvidia off the netbook market:

Acer, Nvidia To Spark NetTop Craze With Cheap mini-PC

The Acer Aspire Revo is the first NetTop combining Nvidia's ION graphics chip and Intel's Atom processor

Nvidia delivered on its promise to bring its low-cost, green, full-featured ION platform to market, with the help of the Acer Aspire Revo mini-PC.

Pricing has not been confirmed yet, but expect the system to be much cheaper – perhaps close to $300 – than Apple’s $600 Mac mini computer or Dell’s $449 Studio Hybrid.

Despite using Intel’s low cost Atom chip, the Acer Aspire Revo is no larger than a typical hardcover book, but yet is a fully capable desktop running Windows Vista, the latest video games and playing BluRay movies.

“ION is 10 times faster than comparably priced PCs… at 1 liter it’s 1/30 the size of standard desktops… Consumes one-fourth the power of traditional desktop PCs,” says a Nvidia spokesperson.

According to the Santa Clara, Calif.-chipmaker, the on-board ION graphics performance is 5 to 10 times faster than PCs with Intel’s integrated graphics.

“The Revo can be compared to an Atom-based desktop systems [NetTop]; it has similar size and thermals, similar components, except for graphics,” adds Nvidia.

If the price is confirmed, the craze for netbooks could soon reach the PC desktop market with those new affordable nettops.

The full hardware specifications of the Acer mini-PC after the jump.

[Read more...]

Nvidia Pushes Into Netbook Market; Ion Certified For Windows Vista

Nvidia said it expects netbooks to be available for sale this summer with its low-cost Ion graphics chipset.

Nvidias Ion chipset should be available in netbooks this summer

Nvidia's Ion chipset should be available in netbooks this summer

Netbooks, low-end notebooks typically costing $500 or less, are the fastest growing category of personal computers – and Nvidia doesn’t want to be left out.

The company has been hit hard by the downturn and the soft PC market and badly needs new sources of growth.

Nvidia demonstrated Ion at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show and says it is an ideal companion to Intel’s low-cost Atom computer processor – which helped spawn the netbook market. Some early reviewers agree that the performance is good.

On Wednesday, Nvidia will announce that Ion has been certified for use with Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

This should set the chip on course to be in the market this summer. Nvidia said it expects Ion machines to sell for as low as $299.

Intel Denies Illegal Bundling of Atom; But “Stand Alone” Version Costs 60% More!

Intel sells an Atom for the netbook/nettop market and a "standalone" version, at a price

Intel sells its Atom processor for the netbook/nettop market that is certified to work with its integrated graphics chip and a "stand alone" or mobile version, but at a steeper price

Intel told us over the weekend that its Atom processors are available as stand alone chips, sans its poor graphics processor. The price list can be found here.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company argues that PC manufacturers are free to take its low cost Atom processor, pair it with Nvidia’s high-end graphics chip for example and build a powerful netbook that could rival the performance of an Intel Centrino 2 notebook.

Netbooks with Intel graphics chips are cheaper to make than “sans” graphics

But one of the caveat for that hybrid Intel-Nvidia solution dubbed “Ion” is its price; as this could end up being a costly proposition for OEMs.

Intel’s price list features 2 versions of the Atom processor: one that is “certified” with Intel’s own graphics chipset like the N270 part ($44) and the other that is not, like the Z530 ($70). And as you can see, with similar performance and characteristics, the “stand alone” version costs over 60% more.

Knowing that the processor is the second – and sometimes the first! – most expensive part in a netbook, after the LCD screen, OEMs might restrain from adopting Nvidia’s Ion platform; which could add $100 or more on a $350-500 netbook.

Intel Bundling Of Atom And Graphics Chip Illegal, Nvidia says

As we reported earlier today, the fate of Nvidia’s high performance netbook platform – ION – is up in the air.

Indeed, Intel could prevent PC manufacturers to use its cheap but “able” Atom processor with anything but its own graphics chip.

Intel action limits consumer freedom of choice

“Unfortunately we have heard similar statements from many customers,” said David Ragones, a product line manager at Nvidia. “That conduct would prevent full and fair competition for our products and denying our customers and consumers freedom of a better choice.”

But, as Ragones also pointed it out, Intel actions might actually prove to be illegal, perpetuating its monopoly of netbook chipsets by forcing coercive and anti-competitive bundled pricing upon OEMs.

Let’s hope that customers choice will finally prevail.

Intel Moves To Kill Nvidia’s Supercharged Atom Platform; Puts VIA’s Hi-Def Netbook Solution In The Spotlight

VIA Trinity high-definition netbook platform is a viable alternative to Nvidias ION

VIA's Trinity high-definition netbook platform is a viable alternative to Nvidia's ION

Nvidia’s Atom platform ION might never see the day of light.

Taiwanese publication Digitimes reports today that in a letter to PC manufacturers, Intel reiterated that Atom processors are only available bundled with its antiquated graphics chips.

In retaliation, the Santa Clara, Calif. chip maker could stop supplying hardware vendors with Atom CPUs in case OEMs decide to use Atom with Nvidia’s graphics chips.

Intel’s move is bad for the consumer

This in effect would kill Nvidia’s plans to build a cheap Atom-based high performance netbook. Which will set us back to where we were a year ago and that is bad for the consumer.

Thankfully, there is an alternative. Nvidia told me last week that it is looking to bring its powerful graphics chips to VIA’s Trinity netbook platform which uses its Nano processor instead of Intel’s Atom.

Nvidia To Disrupt Notebook Market With Powerful Atom-based Platform; Could Hurt Intel Centrino 2 Sales

Nvidia brings Apple MacBook audio/video capabilities like digital display and HD support to Intel Atom netbooks

Nvidia brings Apple MacBook audio/video capabilities like digital display and HD support to Intel Atom netbooks

With Nvidia’s ION platform, Atom netbooks are closing the performance gap with Centrino 2 notebooks.

Intel now runs the risk that low cost and low marging Atom processors could now potentially cannibalize its sales of high margin Centrino 2 platforms.

So far, netbooks are infamous for their sluggish performance, equipped with an outdated Intel graphics chip and limited to 1GB memory imposed by Microsoft Windows XP.

Nvidia's Atom platform outperforms Intel's and can run Windows Vista or Windows 7

Nvidia's Atom platform outperforms Intel's and can run Windows Vista or Windows 7

But that could change quickly, as Nvidia demonstrated in the video below, when it combined the low power and “capable” Intel Atom processor with the same high-performing graphics chips found in the latest Apple Macbooks.

These new generation netbooks end up being a very decent laptop, finally able to run properly Windows Vista – as the video shows – but for the price of a netbook; most often under $500 and sometimes under $300!

Nvidia could disrupt sales of Intel’s Centrino 2 and Core 2 Duo with its Atom-based ION platform

“If you take the GeForce graphics processor paired with Intel’s Atom chip, you will still get 5 times the graphics performance of an Intel Centrino 2 platform,” said David Ragones, product line manager at Nvidia. “We think it’s disruptive because you can now have a laptop based on Atom and GeForce and don’t have to pay the premium for Centrino 2.”

The Nvidia GeForce chip will add $50 to the overall price of a laptop. Which is significant for a low cost netbook but not for a notebook equipped with a large screen and capable of running Windows Vista or Windows 7, video games and playing HD movies.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company expects the first ION-based laptops to appear in the first half of next year. The Nvidia platform could also play a role inside TVs and consumer devices like media players.


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