NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

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NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:09 am

NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Today I have something special for everyone! I've spent the past couple of weeks playing with one of the NVIDIA Ion reference platforms and get to bring you my thoughts on this new innovative platform. Read on to see how the NVIDIA Ion does when it comes to 1080P movie playback, gaming and much more!

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Without a doubt the NVIDIA Ion platform is going to turn heads when it comes to market as it is a mixture of a netbook, a laptop, and a desktop all in a miniature PC. Since the Ion has the ability to play HD content it would make a great platform to design an ultra sleek and lower power home theater PC (HTPC) or media PC. Could you imagine if a computer manufactuer picked up the Ion platform and put it in a slightly larger chassis that contained a slot load Blu-Ray player and a TV tuner? That would be the ultimate HTPC and I for one, would purchase a pair to replace the two HTPC's that I own. My most power efficient HTPC idles at 90W, so to move to something that takes up less space and 77% less power is an easy call.


Article Title: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?
Article URL: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/934/1/
DIGG: http://digg.com/gadgets/NVIDIA_Ion_What ... _Should_Be
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Skippman » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:31 am

Looks amazing! I can't wait! Like yourself, I'll be buying two for my home theaters when they come out. Couple of questions/comments.

1.) Why no WiFi?

Seriously? They didn't think to include that? I'd love to see nVidia or another OEM include WiFi on the release version. This thing would make a handy ethernet bridge for other gaming consoles if it did.

2.) No IR?

I'd love to see an IR port on the front of this to make it the ultimate HTPC. I don't know if they make USB/IR interfaces but IR would allow this box to work with the plethora of universal remotes out there (Harmony anyone).


I imagine this thing coupled with a SSHD would be amazingly fast to boot/wake making it, as you've said, the go to HTPC product. But until they add WiFi I'm probably going to hold off as there's no GigE connection to my theater room or bedroom at this time.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:35 am

All very good points and great feedback, but remember this is the reference design. You'll see companies like ASUS, HP and others for example come out with the Ion platform in their own solutions... I can only hope that those companies added more of the features we need to make this the perfect HTPC! Like you said it needs things like a blu-ray player, tv tuner, ir port, wifi and an SSD, but that right there more than doubles the price of the reference PC. The main point of the reference PC is to see if the market is ready for a device like this and to pitch it to other companies to produce... I think it met those goals.

I think the first Ion systems will be coming out next month if the rumors I heard are correct... Keep your fingers crossed! I know a number of companies that will be making this into netbooks, but personally I'm more interested in the desktop versions.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby hnzw_rui » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:39 am

Great article, Nate. Can you test playback of The Dark Knight trailer using both the latest CoreAVC version (features CUDA support, free trial available) and the built-in DXVA-capable decoders in MPC HomeCinema? :)

Also, any chance you can check the power consumption on the 12V rail? It looks as if the power supply is built into the pico-itx motherboard. While a lot of mini-itx cases come with 60W AC-DC bricks, normally, the DC-DC board can only handle max ~2-3A on the 12V rail and I'm wondering if this might be a concern with the Ion.

Don't really care for a pre-built system or netbook (the Ion system uses more power than current Atom-based netbooks), but I'd love to get a mini-itx Ion motherboard for an HTPC build. :)

Thanks!
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:42 am

hnzw_rui wrote:Great article, Nate. Can you test playback of The Dark Knight trailer using both the latest CoreAVC version (features CUDA support, free trial available) and the built-in DXVA-capable decoders in MPC HomeCinema? :)


Do you have any links for the software I don't use either personally and do you just want to see the CPU usage like I did on the other tests?
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby hnzw_rui » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:03 am

MPC HomeCinema:
http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/index.html

CoreAVC:
http://www.coreavc.com/

For hardware acceleration in MPC HC under Windows Vista, View >> Options >> Playback >> Output should be set to EVR and Options >> Internal Filters >> Transform Filters >> H264/AVC (DXVA) must be checked. Maybe you should also uncheck H264/AVC (FFmpeg) to avoid conflict.

For testing CoreAVC, since I don't have any other H264 decoders installed on my computer, I just disable both of MPC's internal H264 filters so it defaults to using CoreAVC. I think you can manually set it for use via Options >> External Filters, though.

Thanks! :)
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:40 am

hnzw_rui wrote:MPC HomeCinema:
http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/index.html

CoreAVC:
http://www.coreavc.com/

For hardware acceleration in MPC HC under Windows Vista, View >> Options >> Playback >> Output should be set to EVR and Options >> Internal Filters >> Transform Filters >> H264/AVC (DXVA) must be checked. Maybe you should also uncheck H264/AVC (FFmpeg) to avoid conflict.

For testing CoreAVC, since I don't have any other H264 decoders installed on my computer, I just disable both of MPC's internal H264 filters so it defaults to using CoreAVC. I think you can manually set it for use via Options >> External Filters, though.

Thanks! :)


evr.jpg
evr.jpg (161.89 KiB) Viewed 3167 times

set to EVR

avc.jpg
avc.jpg (165.75 KiB) Viewed 3164 times

H264/AVC (DXVA) checked and H264/AVC (FFmpeg) unchecked

playback2.jpg
playback2.jpg (236.35 KiB) Viewed 3162 times

the result 15-20% CPU utilization... roughly the same as on PowerDVD...

I have to pack this up and send it back, so I don't have much more time for any more tests.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby DX » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:50 am

I wonder how it performs with some of the action scenes and other hard to decode movies as well as the feature set when it is released.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby gwolfman » Fri Mar 20, 2009 9:58 am

Apoptosis wrote:
hnzw_rui wrote:MPC HomeCinema:
http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/index.html

CoreAVC:
http://www.coreavc.com/

For hardware acceleration in MPC HC under Windows Vista, View >> Options >> Playback >> Output should be set to EVR and Options >> Internal Filters >> Transform Filters >> H264/AVC (DXVA) must be checked. Maybe you should also uncheck H264/AVC (FFmpeg) to avoid conflict.

For testing CoreAVC, since I don't have any other H264 decoders installed on my computer, I just disable both of MPC's internal H264 filters so it defaults to using CoreAVC. I think you can manually set it for use via Options >> External Filters, though.

Thanks! :)


evr.jpg

set to EVR

avc.jpg

H264/AVC (DXVA) checked and H264/AVC (FFmpeg) unchecked

playback2.jpg

the result 15-20% CPU utilization... roughly the same as on PowerDVD...

I have to pack this up and send it back, so I don't have much more time for any more tests.

Wow, what a great reviewer with quick responses. Nice touch!

If I were to buy this the first thing I would do is throw a SSD in there. I bet if they enabled bitstreaming for the HD audio codecs people would be all over this. I know I would.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby hnzw_rui » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:07 am

Apoptosis wrote:the result 15-20% CPU utilization... roughly the same as on PowerDVD...

I have to pack this up and send it back, so I don't have much more time for any more tests.

Thanks for those! Too bad you have to ship it back. It probably would've been fun to play more with it. :( I always thought review sites get to keep the goodies they test...
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby dicecca112 » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:46 am

Skippman wrote:Looks amazing! I can't wait! Like yourself, I'll be buying two for my home theaters when they come out. Couple of questions/comments.

1.) Why no WiFi?

Seriously? They didn't think to include that? I'd love to see nVidia or another OEM include WiFi on the release version. This thing would make a handy ethernet bridge for other gaming consoles if it did.

2.) No IR?

I'd love to see an IR port on the front of this to make it the ultimate HTPC. I don't know if they make USB/IR interfaces but IR would allow this box to work with the plethora of universal remotes out there (Harmony anyone).


I imagine this thing coupled with a SSHD would be amazingly fast to boot/wake making it, as you've said, the go to HTPC product. But until they add WiFi I'm probably going to hold off as there's no GigE connection to my theater room or bedroom at this time.



1 and 2. You can use USB for these, that's why it has so many USB ports

3. Its SSD Solid State Disk. Don't know why so many people say SSHD
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Skippman » Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:22 am

Any word on when nVidia plans to release this device to the market?

Will the final retail version include a HD/SSD?

I'd love to try out a few things on it like MKV playback, MAME, etc. This thing would also make an extremely powerful CarPuter.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:30 am

Skippman wrote:Any word on when nVidia plans to release this device to the market?

Will the final retail version include a HD/SSD?

I'd love to try out a few things on it like MKV playback, MAME, etc. This thing would also make an extremely powerful CarPuter.


As i mentioned in the review no one will be using this reference design/chassis, so those companies who will be using this platform (IE: Dell, ASUS, HP) will have their own platforms coming out. Since those designs are not out yet you can only guess what companies will do. A lot of netbooks/notebooks will be using this platform as well.
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby gwolfman » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:44 am

Apoptosis wrote:
Skippman wrote:Any word on when nVidia plans to release this device to the market?

Will the final retail version include a HD/SSD?

I'd love to try out a few things on it like MKV playback, MAME, etc. This thing would also make an extremely powerful CarPuter.


As i mentioned in the review no one will be using this reference design/chassis, so those companies who will be using this platform (IE: Dell, ASUS, HP) will have their own platforms coming out. Since those designs are not out yet you can only guess what companies will do. A lot of netbooks/notebooks will be using this platform as well.

Very exciting to see who will be the first one out the door and what twist they'll put on the platform. Thanks for the info.
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1080i60 decode/playback test possible?

Postby A.Fenderson » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:30 pm

Any chance we can get an update wherein you test 1080i60(2:2) playback performance?

1080i @ 60 fields per second (2:2 cadence) is technically more challenging to decode than 1080p @ 24 frames per second: one way to see why is to realize that an interlaced field is essentially half a progressive frame, so based purely on "pixels per second", 1080i60 would be akin to 1080p30 (hence more throughput than 1080p24, which films are encoded at). Some very good high-def titles (mainly live concerts and some nature documentaries) are encoded at 1080i@60fields/second (with 2:2 cadence, a.k.a. "video" and not "film") due to its superior handling of fast-motion sequences, compared to the slower 1080p@24frames/sec (or the film-based interlaced equivalent of 1080i60 with 2:3 cadence).

Nature's Journey might be a good test disc for 1080i60: http://www.hifi-writer.com/he/bdreviews/2008dts.htm

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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby Apoptosis » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:56 pm

I no longer have the system as it was a loaner and has been sent back. If I get one again I'll look into that test for you!
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby A.Fenderson » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:59 pm

OK, thanks! I'm excited about this platform as a potential nettop/htpc, really enjoyed the review. :)
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby liqnit » Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:01 am

reviving an old thread.
Did this reference board the same as Acer AspireRevo?
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Re: NVIDIA Ion - Intel Atom Done Right?

Postby hnzw_rui » Mon Apr 13, 2009 8:56 am

I wouldn't say it's exactly the same, but the Acer AspireRevo does use the same technology.

Think of it this way, NVIDIA makes chipsets for graphics cards and motherboards, and XFX, EVGA, etc release actual products (graphics cards and motherboards) from these chipsets. It's pretty much the same thing here. NVIDIA created the Ion chipset/platform and the sample Nate reviewed was just a prototype. It wasn't meant to be sold, just released to reviewers or displayed on tech conferences to showcase the strength of the product. Acer released the AspireRevo which is an actual product based on NVIDIA's Ion.
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