NVIDIA CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang, is never at a loss for words. Discussing in a recent interview how cruddy he finds contemporary netbooks, Huang reckoned Intel's Atom could cripple the software industry and outlined why he thinks VIA's Nano platform is fantastic.
Huang sat down for a cozy chat with the folks at Laptopmag in which he subtly attempted to put his finger on what was wrong, overall, with netbooks. It didn't take him long. "A netbook is a low-cost PC that doesn't work that well", he noted.
Getting down to specifics, Jensen explained the problem lay in the fact the Atom platform created a base which effectively didn't run most modern applications. "It doesn't run anything well from Electronic Arts, it doesn't run anything well from Adobe, it doesn't run anything well from Microsoft" gushed the outspoken exec, going as far as to say he actually believed the Atom platform would damage the software industry eventually.
But no fear, according to Huang and his newly donned green cape, for the Ion is here! Or, at least, it's coming. The grand high Green Goblin said that in just a few months, it would be possible to build the Ion platform around Atom for, what he claims, will be a vastly improved PC experience.
"I think that this is the beginning of a new trend, and customers can get the full PC experience without spending much more than $399" noted Jensen, adding that Nvidia's GPU price range for the platform lay between $30 to $40 and would replace both the Northbridge and Southbridge chips in a notebook, bringing the cost down even further.
Never one for modesty or caution, Huang declared "the buzz around Ion is really high, almost every single OEM in the world is exploring it", he added that the incremental investment was so low; every OEM was designing around it.
"With Ion, we've brought Cuda, Open CL, and DirectX 11 all the way down to the most cost-effective platforms in the world" he continued.
Asked whether Intel might throw a spanner in the works by dissuading punters from buying an Atom processor with a non Intel chipset, or not validating the Ion, Huang replied he hoped this was not the case. "I think consumers would be really disappointed if they learned that Intel is sabotaging their ability to get access to breakthrough technologies" he wryly noted, adding the decision was ultimately down to OEMs.
"We're a technology component company, and Intel's a technology component company. It's weird for me to tell somebody the type of computers they can design" Huang continued, adding "I thought they [OEMs] were supposed to take all of these tech components and build amazing products from them by mixing and matching and differentiating".
When the discussion steered itself round to AMD's new Neo processor, Huang didn't miss a beat. "Atom by itself with Intel integrated graphics would get crushed by the Neo platform" he declared. But, teamed up with Nvidia's Ion, he reckons Atom would give Neo "a good run for its money".
AMD aren't the only ones snapping at Intel's heels, however, and Jensen commented that he felt VIA's Nano platform was "a fabulous processor" which, he claimed, might even be "architecturally one generation beyond Atom". Huang argued VIA's only real weakness was that they didn't possess the resources to build the GPU in a system which had to, at all costs, be competitive.
Nvidia did, however - and would - continue to support Nano with discrete graphics, according to Jen-Hsun who also noted that the next-generation Ion platform would support Nano too. "At that point we'll support Atoms, Celerons, Core 2 duos, Nanos.
We want to support as many processors as we can", Jen-Hsun emphasised. With the economy in the state it's in, and Nvidia's finances on shaky ground, we're sure we believe that last statement, anyway. µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ