NVIDIA ION platform review | preview -
1080P accelerations | video transcoding | Power consumption
So here is where we step away from the benchmarks for a change. We can show you dozens of detailed platform benchmarks, but with a device like this .. it's all relative. We figured it would just be better to show you two video's demonstrating the difference between regular ATOM 230/330 video acceleration (well the lack of it) and then show you what the GPU in the ION can do to assist.
Small note: the video's are of poor quality, we'll look into some HD capable recording devices this year. But we felt it would be 10x better to show you the product for what it is and what it's designed for rather then showing you dry benchmarks.
1080P (1920x1080) GPU Acceleration on the ION's GF9400
Our first video shows two stages of accelerating / decoding and post processing a 150 Megabyte 1080P Trailer from the movie Iron Man. This trailer is h.264 and roughly pushing it's data though the pipeline at 20-25 MBit/sec, which is fairly normal for a Blu-ray movie, though some movies can even peak to a 35 or even 40 Mbit/sec datarate.
- In the first stage you can see we try to decode the 1080P content over the embedded Atom 230 processor. It's just not possible. Even 720P content is fairly impossible for this processor. Observe closely the massive amount of frames dropped (stuttering) and CPU load, as it is maxing flat-out at 100%
- In the second stage of the video we enable PureVideo in PowerDVD, and as such will accelerate and enhance the h.264 movie content over the GPU. You'll now see real-time fluent movie playback with very low CPU utilization at roughly 20-25%, this 20+ MBit/sec trailer is shown on a 1920x1080P monitor.
The difference is just amazing. It's the sheer power of the GF9400M Chipset/GPU. And yes, we really need to get our hands on a HD recording device, man.
Video Transcoding on ION's GF9400
The second stage of the video shows video transcoding.
We again take the same 150 MB size 1080P h.264 trailer. Now with the help of Badaboom software we will transcode the 1080P video to a much smaller file-format and resolution, MP4, for the iTouch. Normally this process would take 15-30 minutes easily on the Atom 230 processor (depending on the software you'd use).
Watch and observe, as it's nearly real-time. These where the two examples I wanted to show you to get an idea of what this little ION PC is capable of.
What about power consumption ? A fine question dear Sir. Decoding 1080P content at this level must consume heaps of power right ? Ehm, no not really. When the ION reference PC was powered up, it consumed 20 Watt in desktop mode, idling. With the CPU stressed, roughly 23-24 Watt.
Once we decode a full HD movie at 1920x1080P .. we end up at 29 Watt. And that's absolutely brilliant to observe. Bare in mind, we where playing around in Windows Vista. And it was fast enough for everyday functions. Bare in mind, everything you noticed did not consume more than 29 Watt and bare in mind. Kit like this will be dirt cheap.
So I am asking you to mentally try and place the product where it is positioned and then realize what you can do with it.
A preview on NVIDIA ION. What NVIDIA has done with the ION is to create a platform that combines a GeForce 9400M chipset with an Intel Atom processor, all placed on a Pico-ITX PCB. The advantage here is by using such a chipset the environment (PC) will instantly gain modern features and the sheer influence of a GeForce graphics processor meaning you can playback 1080P movies on for example a Netbook or mini-PC.