The NVIDIA Ion platform is quite exciting: who doesn’t want many times the graphics power in a comparable power/thermal envelope? In fact, Intel might even think that it is “too good”, so the company is said to apply deep discounts (1/2 price) to those who purchase an Atom processor bundled with an Intel chipset or mainboard. NVIDIA says that it is “unfair” as it artificially makes ION more expensive for PC makers (by more expensive, we mean $20-$40, although we don’t know the exact pricing).
Some have suggested that OEMs would be better off buying an Intel combo, then “replace” Intel’s chipset by NVIDIA’s, but it just doesn’t work that way. We think that what really bothers Intel is the fact that NVIDIA’s chipsets can do stuff like compressing videos or audio files faster than the main CPU can, while potentially using less power to perform the task. That’s why Apple loves NVIDIA’s stuff – wait until OS X Leopard comes out…
We don’t know if this is “unfair” or not, but expect more hand to hand combat between Intel and NVIDIA in the future. For now, NVIDIA is stepping on Intel’s toes with GPU Computing, but soon Intel will enter GPU territory with Larrabee, its stand-alone high-end GPU.
Is a price bump of $30-$40 so bad for a 5x to 10x performance boost? It doesn’t sound to bad to me. Also, the OEMs might could pair Ion with an Intel CULV processor for which there’s no reported “pricing war”.