NVIDIA Targeting the Netbook Market

NVIDIA is planning to take the plunge into the netbook market. NVIDIA contends that the current crop of netbooks lack enough video processing power, and hope to bring users a richer netbook experience. Rene Haas, NVIDIA's VP of World Wide Sales, said, "It's really about developing a platform which attaches to the Atom."

NVIDIA's plan is to replace the legacy 3 chip design with a two chip combination of the Geforce 9400M and Atom. The Geforce 9400M, which is currently being used in Apple's Macbooks, will give netbooks a much needed performance boost for many applications, allowing them to offer much of the functionality of a full-sized PC.

Haas believes that while the Atom is a very good processor, it's constrained by the Intel chipset. With the Geforce 9400M chip, things like HD video, full streaming video, and high resolution image editing could be done on a netbook.
Although no OEMs have officially announced partnerships with NVIDIA just yet, Haas says "everyone is interested."

"The lightness, the form factor, that's all kind of cool, but people are looking to see what they can do to enhance the user experience", said Haas. But will these newer, "fully functional" netbooks steal some market share from their notebook counterparts?  Haas doesn't believe so. He said, "We think it's a good opportunity, we're not scared off by ‘it's a low margin business'. I think it's a great business to be in actually."


Don't start fantasizing about playing Left 4 Dead on a netbook any time soon though. Haas says their ideal customers would be those who "want to download HD video from Itunes, somebody who may be streaming video, someone who may be a light Photoshop user, someone who may be doing transcoded videos".  NVIDIA's first demonstration of their combination was a Pico ITX box prototype, dubbed the 'Ion Platform' and Haas was confident OEMs would be whipping up their own versions shortly.