Earlier today VR Zone published a photo of the NVIDIA nettop reference design and Ubergizmo just unveiled some more photos about this Intel Atom based system, which features a GeForce 9400M chipset.
The site reports NVIDIA will call its GeForce 9400M based platform for small computer systems "Ion", it will feature a 100mm x 72mm Pico-ITX motherboard and will have more advanced graphics capabilities than small systems with an Intel chipset. NVIDIA illustrates Ion-based systems will play 1080p video without a problem, and it will even run modern games like Call of Duty 4, at low resolutions with scaled down graphics settings of course.
Besides higher performance than netbooks and nettops with Intel chips, the NVIDIA solution will be smaller because it uses only two chips (chipset/GPU + CPU), while Intel uses three chips (northbridge + southbridge + CPU) for its Atom designs. The power usage and thermal dissipation is roughly the same, but the NVIDIA solution will carry a premium price tag of up to $50.
Enhanced graphics from NVIDIA won't surprise anyone: we have seen a demo of Call of Duty 4 that was quite playable, although not with highest graphics setting - but I don't think that any current Atom-powered computer can run that game decently, if at all. The graphics chip that is currently used with Atom, the Intel 9xx series, is no match for the GeForce 9400 M.
One of the complaints about Netbooks or Nettops is that they are graphically underpowered, for example, some can't play a fullscreen YouTube video. The Ion Platform plays 1080p video without a hitch. In fact, we've seen it in action with "The Dark Knight". And the integrated GPU can do more than display graphics. With the right software, it can also encode video for example.