Unless you have been living under a rock or just teleported into from the past – you’ve heard about the little chip that could, taking the computing world by storm and making it’s way into households across the world. We are talking of course about the Intel Atom, the processor that has found in practically every Netbook, and is quickly being adopted into other low power computing devices such as table top touchscreens, media centres and storage devices.
One of the major limits to the platform has been the fact that its conservative performance falls just shy of being able to perform some of the more basic and important tasks for computer users looking for a computer of this type such as HD/BluRay video playback.
This limitation is largely due to the rather antiquated 945G chipset used on the Atom’s motherboard. It features a simple Intel GMA950 graphics adapter which just doesn’t contain enough juice to allow for smooth HD video playback.
Enter nVidia who offered a solution to develop a platform for the Atom, based on it’s 9400 chipset – hardware proven to be able to handle the task. The new recipe for success has been labelled as the “Ion” platform, debutted only months ago and offers a whole host of new features, previously unavailable to to low power systems.
Enter ZOTAC, who is one of the first to publically offer this new platform to the consumers, an have coupled it as an all in one solution, including two different processor options – the single core Atom, and new dual core Atom. The system is based on the newly coined Mini-ITX form factor – a very small and compact design, which is perfect for the hardware’s target audience.
Achieving greater power efficiency while maintaining competitive performance was previously a hard feat to achieve. With the new ZOTAC® ION™ platforms, we’re able to deliver competitive performance with unmatched power efficiency,” said Carsten Berger, marketing director, ZOTAC® International.
NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD technology enables high-definition video playback on the ZOTAC® ION™ platforms. With PureVideo HD technology, the ZOTAC® ION™ is able to playback vivid 1080p high-definition movies smoothly and enhance standard-definition contents to near-high-definition levels.
A native HDMI output enables easy connectivity to the latest high-resolution monitors or high-definition television sets. HDCP compliance secures the HDMI connection for playback of protected video content. DVI and VGA outputs are also available for multiple display connectivity.
“Home theater PCs are becoming popular around the glove. Our new ZOTAC® ION™ is an instant solution for users seeking to build an HTPC. Since the CPU and GPU are integrated on the board, we’re also able design a fan-less cooler for the board,” Mr. Berger added.
Integrated 802.11n wireless networking on Atom N330 equipped ZOTAC® ION™ motherboards allow blazing-fast network connectivity at speeds up to 144 Mbps for high-speed wireless file transfers and high-definition video streaming. The Atom™ N330 equipped ZOTAC® ION™ motherboard also features an onboard DC/DC power supply that delivers greater power efficiency than standard AC/DC power supplies.
The onboard DC/DC power supply removes the need for a large internal power supply that is typically noisy and occupies a lot of space. With the onboard DC/DC power supply, the dual-core ZOTAC® ION™ motherboard can fit into slimmer and more stylish.
Initial reviews put a good spin on this latest release and it is expected to be quickly adopted by many of those looking for a low cost, low power option for their home theatre. The setup is said to be priced between $179 and $249 CAD depending on the chosen options.
- New ZOTAC ION platforms
- NVIDIA ION mGPU
- 16 stream processors
- Integrated Intel Atom N230 (single-core) or Atom N330 (dual-core) processors
- 533 MHz front-side bus
- HDMI (w/7.1-channel Audio), DVI and VGA outputs
- HDCP compliant
- 2 DDR2 DIMM slots
- DDR2-667/800 compatible
- Up to 8 GB of DDR2 memory
- Integrated DC-DC power supply (optional)
- Included 19V AC/DC power brick (optional)
- Integrated 802.11n WiFi (optional)
- Mini PCI Express slot (optional)
- Microsoft DirectX 10 and OpenGL 2.1 compatible
- NVIDIA CUDA and PhysX ready
- NVIDIA PureVideo HD technology