Intel tears apart Nvidia Ion in document

Written by Ben Hardwidge

February 24, 2009 | 10:45

Tags: #atom #competitive #consumption #guide #hd #ion #mcp7a #power #propaganda #transcoding

Companies: #intel #nvidia

Now that the competitive scrap between Nvidia and Intel is officially out in the open, Intel has decided to unashamedly dish the dirt on Nvidia’s Ion platform. bit-tech has seen a document that Intel is sending out called "Nvidia Ion Competitive Positioning Guide," which details what Intel sees as the shortcomings of Nvidia’s pint sized PC platform.

The first point that Intel makes about Ion is that the chipset is nothing new, saying that it’s "rather 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." Intel points out that "despite Nvidia’s continued execution and power problems with this chipset, Nvidia is partnering the same chipset with an Intel Atom processor and creating hype around what it calls the 'Ion Platform'."

A major problem here, according to Intel, is 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," says the company.

Intel also claims that Nvidia has overstated the amount of interest in Ion from PC builders, saying that "Nvidia claims that many OEMs are exploring the Ion, but as of this writing, no customer has publicly disclosed plans to design Ion-based products." The document also quotes a number of tech sites who have detailed Nvidia’s chipset manufacturing issues, as well as those who have criticised the Ion’s power consumption and performance.

As well as this, Intel has also taken Nvidia’s claims about the Ion’s benefits over Intel’s own Atom platforms. In response to Nvidia’s claims about HD video decoding, Intel says that "Intel offers full Hi-Def video decode with HW acceleration with the off-roadmap Mobile Intel GN40 Express Chipset." The company also refers to an article on the Tech Report, saying that "Preliminary press reviews indicate Nvidia’s Ion HD playback may not be as good as Nvidia claims."

Intel also claims that its own Atom platform will have longer battery life than an Ion-based system, quoting a comparative TDP of 8W against Ion’s 15.5W. Finally, to combat Nvidia’s claims that the Ion has superior video transcoding and gaming abilities, Intel simply says that "neither gaming nor video transcoding are relevant to netbook and nettop users."

In closing, Intel says: "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." The company also claims that the forthcoming introduction of its new netbook and nettop platforms at the end of this year will mean that "the window of opportunity for Ion is very short."

Of course, you could also argue that Intel’s current Atom chipset is derived from its ageing 945 chipset, which makes the first argument a little redundant. However, Intel is clearly feeling threatened by Nvidia’s Ion platform if it feels the need to produce propaganda such as this. Is there a need for HD transcoding and gaming features on netbooks and nettops, or is Intel right to dismiss these features? Let us know your thoughts about Intel’s claims in the forum.
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