Earlier this year NVIDIA introduced the ION, which is their new system platform that pairs a GeForce 9400M GPU with an Intel Atom processor to make it an appealing platform for those desiring a netbook or nettop computer but are interested in a higher level of graphics performance than what is currently possible with Intel's integrated graphics. Products using the NVIDIA ION have been slow to emerge, but in recent weeks, we have begun seeing more devices around, including those from smaller manufacturers. One company that is now selling an ION-powered nettop is ZaReason, which is a Linux-focused hardware company. In this article we have a whole arsenal of Linux-based tests showing off the NVIDIA graphics performance with the Intel Atom processor under Linux.
NVIDIA's ION platform is designed to provide superior graphics performance and quality than what is available with the Intel 945 graphics that up to this point were all that was available in Atom-based products. NVIDIA reports that the ION platform is capable of full 1080p HD video playback with 7.1 surround sound, can take advantage of their CUDA technology, and is capable of playing many more recent games than what is supported with the 945 IGP. Right now, the ION platform just supports the current selection of Intel Atom processors, but NVIDIA is developing an ION solution for use with VIA Nano processors too.
The NVIDIA ION graphics processor currently has a 450MHz core clock with an 1100MHz shader clock. Its texture fill rate is 3.6 Billion per second, supports up to 16x anti-aliasing, has 300MHz RAMDACs, supports 128-bit High Dynamic range precision, is dual-link DVI supported with resolutions up to 2560 x 1600, and supports NVIDIA PureVideo HD. HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort, and VGA connections.
The ZaReason system we have our hands on is called the Ion Breeze 3770 and was just released a few days ago. We will have our full review on the ZaReason Ion Breeze 3770 in the near future, but this ION-based nettop uses the Intel Atom 230 processor and depends upon a Zotac ION motherboard internally. Our review unit was configured with 3GB of RAM, a 1TB Seagate ST31000333AS hard drive, and was allocated with 512MB of memory for its GeForce 9400M.