10-inch netbooks get castrated ION

Half the shader counts compared to larger ION devices

NVIDIA’S NEXT GENERATION ION GPU chip is upon us, but one little detail that hadn’t quite made its way out ahead of the launch is the fact that Nvidia will have two different versions available depending on the product you buy. So when is an ION not a full ION?

Well, any Atom N400-series netbook with a 10-inch or smaller screen will end up with half the shader count, sorry, CUDA Cores, than larger 12-inch netbooks and nettops. We presume 11.6-inch devices fall into this category as well. This means that if you go for what will presumably be the cheaper and of course lighter netbooks, you’ll only get 8 CUDA Cores rather than the full 16 that larger devices will get.

This feels like a total con by Nvidia, especially as most consumers will have no way of knowing this. The Nvidia marketing machine will just push the fact that you need ION inside your netbook, but won’t tell you that they’re offering two different versions, one which won’t have nearly as good performance as the other.

Image courtesy of Impress PC Watch

As the next-generation ION (this seems to be the name for it at the moment) is a discrete GPU this makes it even more appalling. We doubt that a massive eight extra shaders will increase the temperature of the ION GPU to much that it won’t be possible to use it in 10-inch devices. The previous generation ION-LE featured “up to 16” shaders and it seems like Nvidia feels this is good enough for people that want only a 10-inch screen on their computer.

The good news is that the next-generation ION will support up to 512MB of dedicated DDR3 graphics memory. There’s also support for HDMI, DVI and even DisplayPort connectivity, with the latter being something we doubt many will bother implementing. Nvidia’s killer feature is of course its recently announced Optimus graphics switching technology which will allow you to save battery power by using Intel’s built in IGP in the Atom N400-series processor rather than the ION GPU while away from a power socket.S|A

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