While the current NVIDIA ION chipset has been a well received product in the media and with very select few enthusiasts thanks to its higher performing graphics and ability to accelerate decoding of both HD/Blu-ray and Flash video, it would be safe to say that the chipset has been less successful in the mass market than NVIDIA would have liked.  Until very recently, there were only a handful of netbooks/notebooks/nettops released with the ION chipset, the most notable of which was the HP Mini 311 which we are currently testing in house.  This winter we will see a new series from ASUS as well, the 1201N netbook and 1501 nettops, using the ION chipset but what is making news this CES is the successor to it, ION 2.

NVIDIA's ION 2 chipset continues to gain steam, CES 2010 - Mobile 3
The HP Mini 311 powered by NVIDIA ION

While a clunky name to be sure (and I think it will be branded differently when finally announced), the ION 2 chipset is much less a chipset and much more a discrete graphics offering.  Remembering that the updated Atom CPU known as Pine Trail will included integrated features like a memory controller and even a graphics core, NVIDIA knows there is much less reason for them to compete on that level.  Where NVIDIA is known to have a HUGE competitive edge is on the graphics and GPU computing front.  ION 2 will likely then only focus on those areas.

NVIDIA's ION 2 chipset continues to gain steam, CES 2010 - Mobile 4
A Lenovo ION solution – Click to Enlarge

According to reports from a recent conference call, NVIDIA is now publicly saying that the ION 2 chipset will be delivered in Q1 of 2010, an aggressive schedule that puts it not very far behind the Pine Trail platform itself.  As for specifications it seems likely that the firm will increase the shader power of the GPU to make it more attractive and hopefully will lower power consumption, or at least keep it at the same level of the current generation ION platform.  What other features could be included are still up in the air but NVIDIA needs to make this product 100% compatible and seamless with the Pine Trail platform if they hope to speed up adoption with OEMs compared to the previous the ION offering.

I imagine we’ll be seeing quite a bit about ION 2 at CES this year, though unofficially, as NVIDIA will be focusing on the update to Tegra with its marketing budget.