After being bogged down with an age-old 945 chipset the Intel Atom finally gets to stretch its legs thanks to Nvidia's latest mini-ITX platform. That's right, the ION platform has officially launched today and Zotac is the exclusive partner for bringing this product worldwide.
We first caught a glimpse of the ION when Acer launched its Revo mini PC a couple of months back. It's still not available in India but it featured a smaller version of the mini-ITX MCP7A 9400 chipset with an Atom processor. It was so tiny that it could easily fit in your palm, but was powerful enough to handle BluRay movies.
Zotac has launched the ION platform in a mini-ITX form factor for all you DIY'ers out there. Zotac will also be launching a few variants of the ION to suite each ones budget. The chipset used is MCP7A or 9400 which features an onboard GPU of the same name. The processor varies according to the model and the one we have today is the high-end one with an Intel Dual Core Atom N330 running at 1.6GHz with Multi-threading. The board supports many connectivity options which are highlighted in the schematic above. We'll check them out a little later when we inspect the design and layout of the board. Another first is the bundled 90W AC adapter meaning there's no need for a power supply.
How will the ION benefit me?
The main reason for launching the ION is to get the best of both worlds. You get the low power of the Atom coupled with the brute force of the Nvidia 9400 GPU, which makes it great for a HTPC, casual gaming PC or a media hub all bundled into a small package.
Possible Usage Areas
Low powered download rig
Media server (stream your movies thanks to the built-in WiFi)
General purpose small form factor PC
Out of these, an HTPC or a media server makes more sense as it's designed for those segments. So without further ado, let's check out the Zotac ION platform.