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Acer Announces First NVIDIA Ion2-Based Netbook 94

Posted by kdawson
from the one-less-underpowered-thing dept.
MojoKid writes "Acer has just taken the wraps off the new Acer Aspire One 532G netbook at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The machine is the first netbook with dedicated next-generation NVIDIA ION 2 graphics acceleration. The new Aspire One is also enabled with NVIDIA's recently announced Optimus technology to balance multimedia performance when needed, along with battery life savings, seamlessly switching to integrated Intel Atom/Pinetrail graphics when it's not required. Word is Ion 2 is going to be outfitted with twice the number of shaders for even more graphics horsepower as well."
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Acer Announces First NVIDIA Ion2-Based Netbook

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @05:32AM (#31153706)

    Back to my fish for a minute. The tank has a volume of 11 gallons. But I hardly ever put that much water in it because the fish ends up bumping its head against the cover and it makes an annoying sound. So I thought about other ways I could keep the tank full without always adding more water, and I came up with a system of adding gravel every other day to raise the level of the water. If the water level falls too far, it becomes a problem for the external water filter. So by adding more baseline gravel, I can pretty much keep the water at a safe level.

    When I change the water every other week, I remove some of that gravel so that I have a lower baseline to start from. If this were a larger tank like my old 50 gallon, this system of adding and removing gravel wouldn't work at all. There's just too much volume to make up in the larger tank.

    So if the display size is only 10 inches, how much graphics horsepower is really needed? With a decent low-end decoder chip, you can pretty much get WXGA @ 30fps decoding. The additional polygons that the graphics chip can compute seems like it would be under utilized due to the small screen discouraging hardcore gameplay. I've got a netbook like this (an older version) and the ladies are duly impressed when I whip out my big 10 inch display.

    • by SpeedyDX (1014595) <speedyphoenix&gmail,com> on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @06:03AM (#31153812)

      Some ION systems have struggled slightly with 1080p decoding. If ION 2 is all it's billed to be (harder, better, faster, stronger) while keeping smaller energy footprint with seamless switching between integrated and discrete graphics (as Anand seems to think it does well: http://www.anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=3737 [anandtech.com]), then I'm all for it.

      Of course, the ION 2 platform isn't going to be limited to netbooks. The market for small HTPCs (Zotac MAG or Acer Revo and their ilk, I think they're called "nettops" or something) seems to be slowly but steadily gaining steam. Those platforms need to be able to smoothly drive 1920x1080 displays, and ION 2 seems to be something of a match made in heaven for this sort of purpose.

      • by hairyfeet (841228)

        It isn't just the HD decoding advantage that ION gives you, it is the smoothness and lower power requirements as well. I have been building a lot of low end AMD based dual core desktops, and while much more powerful than an Atom based anything I have noticed how much of a difference hardware acceleration really makes. Not only is video smoother with much less chance of dropped frames, but it really cuts down on the amount of CPU needed and makes multitasking that much nicer as well as cuts down on fan speed

        • by TheKidWho (705796)

          Nice price, but you'd be lucky to get 3 hours out of one of those NEO netbooks, not to mention the heat.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lxs (131946)

            You just did, Kid.

          • I get between 5-6 hours of normal use out of mine (Athlon NEO, Radeon x1270, 250gb hdd, 11" display, 6 cell battery.) To be honest, I bought mine to be more of a thin and light notebook rather than a "netbook" so this is more than enough for my purposes. As far as heat goes, the fan rarely has to spin up and it runs much cooler than any "normal" laptop I've owned.
          • The NEO stuff is substantially lower power than traditional A64s. Not as good as Atom(though surprisingly close in the case of the old "atom + power-sucking 945 chipset" pair), though with better performance; but it isn't the old gamer's-special "We'll just slap a desktop Athlon and a big-ass fan in there, it'll run like a bat out of hell, cost peanuts, and the kiddies won't care if it is two inches thick and sounds like the souls of the damned if we add some colored lights" AMD based laptop by any means.
          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            Actually we are talking about an ULV chip and the system only draws 18 watts [computerworld.com] maximum for a dual core processor. And while the above article says $750 IRL Walmart and most of the other chains have them for less than $450 for a dual core with a Radeon 3200 GPU, which allows it to play 1080p video smoothly and maultitask quite nicely.

            So it really isn't like the old power sucking Athlon days. While it isn't gonna suck single digits max like an Atom (which when paired with the 945g isn't really great power wis

            • by TheKidWho (705796)

              Yeah, but for that price you're better off with a Core2Duo ULV Laptop which push 7-12 hours of battery life.

              However, you get what you pay for with this laptops, their screens are terrible.

        • Re: LGA775, nVidia has their 9200-9400 series onboard graphics, which are pretty much what ION(1&2) is based on. There's even a handful of Mini-ITX options, and ITX cases have gotten cheaper. My current HTPC is on a zotac ITX board with an nv chipset and a low-ish power dual core CPU. I do a bit of game emulation, and browsing (flash) etc in the living room and it runs great. It I could get similar performance (to my needs) from an Atom/ION2 based solution, I'd do it. I tried an Atom330 and even a

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Why am I not surprised it was you who posted this, BadAnalogyGuy? Your name defies your abilities, good sir.

      • by Ndkchk (893797)
        GMA 4500. Decodes 1080p with low CPU usage, probably less power drain. It isn't as good for games as even original ION, but you're probably not getting an Atom to play games with.
        • by Sloppy (14984)

          GMA 4500

          That looks very good on paper, until you realize it's essentially vaporware until they finish the drivers. At least ION has VDPAU (even though it's proprietary), so you can actually use it Right Now. By the time they get GMA 4500 working, will the hardware even still be for sale?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jisatsusha (755173)
        It's a 10" screen, it's not like you can watch 1080p on it anyway. Sure, you can probably connect an external display, but I doubt that many people are going to buy this kind of computer to do that.
        • by billcopc (196330)

          There is a massive community of HTPC enthusiasts who want to do just that. Remember XBMC (formerly Xbox Media Player) ? Yeah, that thing. Slap it on a netbook or "nettop" with ION, hook it up to your TV and you have an 1080p capable any-format media player for less than the cost of a halfway-decent BluRay player.

          • I'm somewhat unconvinced, after trying with a first gen atom 330 (intel gfx) and a first gen Atom330 + ION. I've been much happier with the 775 nv boards or the 780+ AMD boards with low-ish power CPUs. I know it's more power draw than the atom, but to be honest, this is less concern to me for something plugged into the wall, that takes less than $3-4 to run 24/7 (let alone S3 suspend half the time).

            I hope it works out well, and that all the acceleration features get worked out. This time, I'm sticking wi

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          Who cares what size the display is. If the video you are trying to play is 1080p, you still have to be able to decode 1080p. Besides that, resolution does not make a significant difference anyway. Performance needed for decoding is more dependent on the bitrate than anything else.
      • by wagnerrp (1305589)

        Some ION systems have struggled slightly with 1080p decoding.

        ION systems handle 1080p decoding just fine. Nvidia has one dedicated hardware decoder that is shared across all of their cards. The only improvements that ION2 (and GT2xx cards) provide is a MPEG4 Part2 (ASP, DivX, XviD) decoding, and an improved video scaler.

        There are two issues that you may encounter. Being a hardware decoder, it is limited in what options it supports. x264 supports a number of options, levels, and profiles than Nvidia's decoder is capable of handling. People who don't know what the

    • by tepples (727027)

      So if the display size is only 10 inches, how much graphics horsepower is really needed?

      A netbook's 1024x600 pixel display has about twice as many pixels as a Wii console, whose "Hollywood" GPU outputs 640x480 pixels. Therefore, a gaming netbook needs to process about twice the vertices and twice the pixels per second as Hollywood. Yet the consensus on Slashdot is that Intel GMA is less powerful than Hollywood, instead comparing to a Voodoo3 from a decade ago.

      And as SpeedyDX pointed out [slashdot.org], people can and do plug in bigger monitors.

    • by dindi (78034)

      These netbooks have a vga out, so cranking out more GFX power might be preferred by those who connect them to projectors (presentation or movie) or their primary display.

      I got one of the Aspire One netbooks for my wife for Christmas and the only dislike (besides Windows on it - both of us are Mac apes) is the tini-tiny touch pad. Even the keyboard is usable with my large hands for touch typing. While it is a perfect drag-it-around-the-house-or-garden laptop it is what it is: good for mail and web, skype ...

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      I've got a 24 incher, but I only use half of it as a rule...

      *rimshot*

  • I travel a lot on business and for relatively extended periods of time (couple of weeks are not uncommon).

    I also like to play "advanced" games. I just recently completed Dragon Age: Origins.

    The problems is, that if I want a decent gaming performance I don't usually have a choice of a small laptop. I'm currently lugging around a 17" HP which works great, but is a bit heavy and eats batteries like candy :-)

    Something smaller would be a nice change.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by goldaryn (834427)

      I also like to play "advanced" games. I just recently completed Dragon Age: Origins. The problems is, that if I want a decent gaming performance I don't usually have a choice of a small laptop. I'm currently lugging around a 17" HP which works great, but is a bit heavy and eats batteries like candy :-)

      Not to piss on your chips, but you can't have battery life AND powerful graphics, not yet at least. Decent GPU is a power hog. If you find a netbook that runs DA:O, for example, the battery isn't going to last 9 hours like the high battery-life ones do now. Can't have it both ways - sorry.

      • by JDeane (1402533)

        Well they could but no company has the balls to build a notebook with a 20 pound battery!!! (not to mention the fire hazard...)

        • by goldaryn (834427)

          Well they could but no company has the balls to build a notebook with a 20 pound battery!!! (not to mention the fire hazard...)

          That'd be funny. Kevin Smith would buy one

          Kevin shoves 20 pound laptop battery down the front of his pants
          Kevin approaches check in
          [Attendant] Please put all your hand luggage on the scales to be weighed, sir.
          [Kevin] Certainly...

          • by Anonymous Coward

            That'd be funny.

            I'm sure that sounded really funny in your head, but do us all a favor and stick with whatever it is that you do that isn't involved in the entertainment industry.

            kthxbye

      • by Vlado (817879)

        Well, actually it seems here that I could have it both ways.

        Qute from TFA:
        NVIDIA® Optimus Technology intelligently, automatically, and seamlessly transitions between the powerful NVIDIA® ION GPU, and battery-saving integrated graphics

        To me this sounds optimal. While playing games I'm usually stationary and have an access to the power source. On the other hand, while I'm on the go I don't need high-end graphics. I need Powerpoint, Wword, Excel. If this thingy can go into low power mode for such app

        • by goldaryn (834427)

          Well, actually it seems here that I could have it both ways. Qute from TFA: NVIDIA® Optimus Technology intelligently, automatically, and seamlessly transitions between the powerful NVIDIA® ION GPU, and battery-saving integrated graphics

          Call me a cynic, but this just sounds like the normal GPU manufacturer PR puff. Besides, when have you ever played DA:O for an hour? It's a 5 or 6 hours session kinda game, at least when I've played it. Swapping back and forth between dedicated GPU and onboard is fine in theory. "Plugging it in" is is fine in theory. THe question still is: are you going to get 5 or 6 hours of current generation 3D gaming out of it when you are on the go? The answer is no.

          • by Vlado (817879)

            You're completely right and I wasn't disagreeing with you at all.

            I said that on the go powerful graphics are not a requirement and battery life is. While spending time in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere can be usefully spent with a nice game. And here battery life is irrelevant and graphics are not.

            I also agree that the "seamlessly switching" part might be marketing, however let's give the thing a benefit of the doubt and see how it turns out in practice. We should have some faith in technology, right

            • I don't think it will be completely un-noticable when switching... but I do think it's far better than the shutdown, flip switch (physical or programatic) and boot up under other GPU option of some prior hybrid graphics approaches. I won't be using this for an HTPC (already happy with my current solution), but have been considering a new laptop/netbook... I don't care too much about screen size 9 to 11 inches is fine for me, my bigger issues have been the resolution (1024x600 isn't enough, 1280x800 should

        • by cgenman (325138)

          Shutting off internal graphics cards when not in need is a trick that has been in use for a while now, though usually it requires a reboot.

          Considering this is specifically targeted for the low-cost, low power netbook market, don't expect anything approaching acceptable graphics performance, however. The current highest-end Nvidia notebook graphics card just hit 38.4 GT/s fill rate, whereas the current ion is at 3.6. That's just 10% of the full "notebook" cousin performance. And that's assuming that your

      • You can get a decent balance though. Have you seen the new alienware? C2D 1.3 CULV, GT335M,
        say 3 hours with a midrange card. Or more with switchable, like macbook pro.

        The Asus U30Jc looks particularly tasty for the lighter option + with the new optimus switchable feature from Nvidia (supposed to be seamless, no need to manually toggle). Hopefully more models with powerful GPUs are on the way
        http://zedomax.com/blog/2010/01/08/asus-u30jc-hands-on-review-at-ces-2010/ [zedomax.com]

        If cash is no issue and you want small/light the new Alienware looks wicked. 11" but proper midrange card! They claim over 6 hours battery life when not running games.
        http://www.dell.com/us/en/home/notebooks/alienware-m11x/pd.aspx?refid=alienware-m11x&cs=19&s=dhs [dell.com]

        • Or more with switchable, like macbook pro.

          The smallest MacBook Pro you can get with the switchable graphics is a 15", which isn't much of a space saving over the OPs current 17" laptop when you consider they were thinking about netbook sized machines.

    • If you are willing to turn down the graphics settings, then you'll be able to get a smaller laptop that will also last you longer on battery.

    • by PitaBred (632671)

      I just bought an HP Envy. That thing chews up games (Radeon 5830, i5/i7 CPU choices), and with the extra slice, it'll go 6+ hours on normal-ish usage, maybe 3+ hours gaming. I can't complain a bit about it. And it's a 15.6", so a bit smaller than yours, as well as being a fair bit lighter.

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @05:34AM (#31153710)
    I so want one... but no doubt it will be done with a ridiculous straight dollars to pounds when, if ever, we see it in the UK...
  • A netbook that ticks all my boxes. ION was almost there and now ION2 is going to fit the bill.

    I suppose I really wanted one of those >£1,000 10 or 12 inch laptops, but was too put off by the price.

    Thing is, the Atom processor is more than capable of running everything I want it to run. I didn't need a ULV Core2Duo (which seems to be the only defining factor between netbooks and uber-expensive mini-laptops).

    Graphics - well, I do like my HD content and as for gaming... I like my indie titles. Some of

    • They aren't all uber-expensive.

      I just bought an Acer 1810TZ for £440 off Dixons (with about £15 cashback from quidco). It's for the ULV 1.3Ghz C2D, 4Gb of Ram, ~7 hours battery. The only downside is the Intel integrated graphics. This is in a 11.6 inch case, perfect for dumping in my bag for use on call or for long journeys.

      I'm thinking this machine with an ION2 would be almost the perfect ultra portable. Maybe an i3/i5 would be nice too, but i'm just greedy. The C2D is easily good enou

      • I stand dejected. That sounds like quite a good deal.

        I suppose I should just confess that I have an allergy to Intel. Especially their integrated graphics.

        Mind you, if the price is right, the pragmatist in me will win over.

  • Does any netbook screen support 1920*1080 resolution?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by quenda (644621)

      Does any netbook screen support 1920*1080 resolution?

      No, but atom + ion = HTPC. The 1920*1080 is on your 42"+/- TV set.

      • I'm still a bit iffy on how video card hardware support for HD decoding is so dependent on driver/codec issues.
        For example, you can't do a lot of it on linux (osx?). Windows codecs are a bit of a nightmare mishmash the way they (don't?) fit together, there's little clear documentation on the net as to how it all hooks in and into what player. e.g. for ages DXDA worked in media centre classic but bad luck if you preferred anything else.

        Also the codec you use might not be usable in the program/context you wan

        • Re:What HD? (Score:4, Informative)

          by aeiah (937509) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @07:50AM (#31154196)
          HD x264 decoding support is as strong if not stronger under linux than windows right now with nvidias newer graphics card. look up VDPAU. people report very very little CPU usage running 1080p videos under linux on acer revos and the like.
          • by PitaBred (632671)

            Damn straight it's stronger. I'm finding some files that'll decode great with vdpau that DXVA won't touch. Rather annoying.

            • I've not yet found a combination that Win 7 x64 + Media Player Classic x64 won't play. District 9 HD with external subtitles file rendered flawlessly.

          • by wagnerrp (1305589)
            Nothing supports decoding of x264, and x264 does not support decoding. x264 is just one open source encoder for the H.264 codec.
        • by tepples (727027)

          I'm still a bit iffy on how video card hardware support for HD decoding is so dependent on driver/codec issues.
          For example, you can't do a lot of it on linux (osx?).

          Because the six major motion picture studios apply stronger digital restrictions management to HD video than to SD video. Steve Jobs doesn't want to put Blu-ray support into Mac OS X because the DRM is so draconian. Neither do desktop Linux distributors.

          And no I don't want a media playing appliance because w/ a good card in it it doubles nicely as a virtual xbox.

          Then use an xbox. At least its games are designed to run on a TV in that they let more than one player connect a gamepad.

        • by Briareos (21163) *

          For example, in my Vista media center, I have an ATI 5770.
          - However I can't use DXDA because I need software ffdshow.
          - And the reason I need software ffdshow is to enable mediacontrol plugin, which allows me to use my remote to change / toggle audio channels and subtitles.

          I take it you don't keep up with ffdshow development, because mediacontrol's author actually added DXVA support (and limited OSD/subtitles support for it) five weeks ago [sourceforge.net]...

          np: Pantha Du Prince - Lay In A Shimmer (Black Noise)

        • by atamido (1020905)

          And no I can't use say XBMC for example because I need the TV functionality as well.

          By "TV functionality" do you mean recording TV shows? If so, you might want to investigate separate front-end and back-end systems. The back-end system sits in the basement or closet somewhere and just records TV. The front-end system is much smaller and just plays the recorded media over the network.

        • if your CPU can do at HD natively then that's optimal. Which is any C2D, though I guess that means at least a mATX case, not a dinky little ion box.

          Tell that to my C2D E6300 in a mBTX case paired with a 7600GS. Even then it struggles at times with 1080p H.264.

        • Re:What HD? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday February 16, 2010 @09:23AM (#31154790) Homepage

          > I'm still a bit iffy on how video card hardware support for HD decoding is
          > so dependent on driver/codec issues.
          > For example, you can't do a lot of it on linux (osx?).

          Utter nonsense.

          The ION gear is quite well supported on Linux and has been since before any
          corresponding gear had made it out onto the market. Nvidia is VERY GOOD about
          Linux support in this area. They always seem to be the example that ATI doesn't
          follow. Even Intel chips are better than ATI in this respect. The level of partial
          acceleration from Intel gear might even be enough to make (non-ION) Atom feasable
          for lightweight HD.

          The fact that Linux applications can be treated like your own private Frankenstein
          is of considerable value here. If the Linux equivalent of Microsoft with MCE is
          dragging their feet, you don't have to be trapped with the single source solution.
          Although that isn't even strictly true with Windows either if you aren't a total
          Lemming.

          • by PitaBred (632671)

            ATI's in-house Linux drivers have sucked, true. But at least they're throwing support at proper open-source support of their GPUs. If you have an x1xxx or older GPU you get the fastest open-source graphics acceleration available right now. I think the HD2xxx and later chips are going to be supported by the next rounds of mainstream distros, too. There's still not great video acceleration with any open-source drivers, but ATI is working with the community on that. I much prefer that to a binary blob that rep

      • by wagnerrp (1305589)
        Technically 'Atom + 9400M = ION'.
    • by wagnerrp (1305589)
      The resolution of the screen is completely irrelevant. You have to be able to decode whatever format the video is in. Scaling comes afterward.
  • Can someone who knows these products tell me if these laptops will work well with free software, or are they are disaster like the Intel GMA500(right?) based laptops?

    • by MojoStan (776183)

      Can someone who knows these products tell me if these laptops will work well with free software, or are they are disaster like the Intel GMA500(right?) based laptops?

      Since no one who "knows" these products is giving good answers...

      By "free" do you mean free drivers as well as OS? If you're okay with proprietary drivers, then Phoronix's articles on ION/Atom seem to show that they work well (by Linux standards) with Ubuntu and NVIDIA's proprietary drivers. 3D acceleration and video acceleration (VDPAU) both seem to work.

  • The way I see things this is not a netbook. The pricing I was able to find is over $400. That makes this a small notebook. As far as I am concerned a netbook is a 10" or smaller screen and under $400. This market was created with computers in the $250 to $300 range. This is the second "netbook" I have seen in the last month that is approaching $500. The manufacturers don't seem to understand that a large part of what created the buzz around netbooks was the price.
    • They still offer those cheaper models. Their low prices pique your interest in netbooks, and then when you do your research/talk to a salesman you learn about these better versions that you could have for just a little extra. I think the manufacturers know exactly what they're doing.

      • Once the price goes over $350, the machine in question is no longer a netbook it is a UMPC. Now I know that manufacturers want to sell UMPCs as netbooks because the UMPC market never really caught on. Of course the reason that UMPCs never developed a big market is because people don't want to pay a premium for a small PC. The reason that netbooks did is because they are cheap and cute. At less than $300, I can afford to buy something that doesn't have all of the functionality I would like. Once it costs mor
    • ...This is the second "netbook" I have seen in the last month that is approaching $500. The manufacturers don't seem to understand that a large part of what created the buzz around netbooks was the price.

      I think they understand all too well. $200 - $300 (USD) machines were selling well and eating into the bigger profits they would have made on bigger and more expen$ive units. Smaller cheaper netbooks seem unlikely to come from the likes of Asus, Acer, Lenovo, Dell, etc.

      Of course the other issue could be the need to run Win7 for whatever reason (pressure from Microsoft, lack of popularity of Linux.) That puts upward pressure on H/W requirements which also puts upward pressure on price.

      Our best bet for a sma

  • Anyone know how am I supposed to connect this Ion2 chip to my ATtiny85? Is it with duct tape or crazy glue?

  • My netbook already runs Ion3. And it sure as hell saves some graphics resources and battery.
  • Netbooks sell because they are cheap. How much will this ION 2 netbook cost? Too much and you just push yourself out of the market, as you can just get a better equipped (if not as small) laptop.

    I am intrigued however. If they create a low cost netbook, that can run a game like WOW (I said run, not barely function), I might buy one just to have a portable WOW device for on the road (as well as all that other stuff like email, internet, etc...).

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