Nvidia Ion in a Mac Mini ... is it possible?

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by essential, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. essential macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2008
    I read Engadget and Gizmodo a lot, as well as these forums. The Nvidia Ion has been getting a lot of coverage. I admit I don't know what it is exactly, but I believe it is a onboard video chipset, that was originally supposed to be for netbooks, but required too much power, so now it's going to surface in mini-desktops first.

    Articles have said it's pretty beefy, and can handle 720p and 1080p video easily, and in one of todays articles said it could handle encoding HD while playing the HD video and didn't have an issue:

    "with it able to convert a 1080p video file to a more portable size while the video was playing, and play Left 4 Dead at 720p resolution without any noticeable hiccups"

    Do any of you think an Ion is likely to show up in a Mac Mini refresh? It would allow the Mini to handle any video and remain small, I just don't know if the platform is too new to be considered in a refresh since if they have anything designed they are probably using technology that is already out to market.

    Any opinions or rumors I might have missed about a possible Ion/Mac Mini coupling?
  2. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    I sure as heck hope not. Save it for the Apple TV update, Apple!

    Besides, we've seen kexts that show the Mac Mini as getting the 9400M.
  3. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    I only see this happening if it coincides with Snow Leopard and OpenCL is as kick-@$$ as Apple is claiming it will be. Otherwise, it will be less of a machine than the current Minis.
  4. essential thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 8, 2008
    How does the 9400M compare to the Ion, I don't know much about chipsets? Should the 9400M be able to handle HD as well as these reviews say the Ion has been?
  5. Teq macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2008
    Nvidia Ion is based on 9400, it's the processor that makes the difference. Atom vs Core2Duo, c2d always wins, that's why everyone is hoping for a c2d/9400 rather than atom/9400
  6. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030


    Jun 15, 2005
    Doesn't that just scream Mac mini to anyone? Sure the rumors were confused as to whether it was a AppleTV or Mac mini, but seeing as he said "desktop" it may very well be the Mac mini. Apple might get an Atom 330 at 1.6 GHz (or possibly a custom higher clocked version), which can handle four threads simultaneously, so it wouldn't be too bad (not as good as a speedy Core 2 Duo I know, but not the worst case scenario).
  7. Teq macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2008
    To me it screams like they're going to dump the Mini in favor of an updated AppleTV ;)

    PS. God I hope I'm wrong.
  8. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    Sure does. :(

    And "spring"... I think...

    In the fall of 2008, Apple was planning for an iMac with updated dual-core CPUs and a Core 2 Duo Mac mini, both due for a November release. But then Apple changed plans, giving the iMac the 65 W quad-cores (maybe a better cooling system too) and the Mac mini the Ion platform. Therefore, these Macs were delayed a few months into what now looks to be the spring of 2009.

    In fact, it might even be possible that Apple had the Atom idea for the Mac mini for a while now and the reason why they didn't update the Mac mini for so long was that they didn't want the Core 2 -> Atom transition to be that much of a downgrade. :rolleyes:

    I agree, especially with the overclocked version. And Apple would really push the graphics capabilities of the new Mac mini.

    I'm wondering if this may increase the possibility of an Ion-based small MacBook Air.
  9. Teq macrumors newbie

    Oct 24, 2008
    If you don't mind, may I just say: ROTFL ?
    The "plans" you mention were nothing but rumors. Fueled by our needs, our expectations and the editors of AppleInsider ;)
    Not once have I heard from Apple that they plan to update their desktops in November 2008, in fact I have heard Apple state that they're Christmas lineup was complete and would not be changed in 2008.
  10. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    You're right. It wouldn't be too bad, it would be horribly slow.

    The Atom is for machines that need to be super cheap and/or super energy efficient. The mini is neither.
  11. iMacmatician macrumors 601

    Jul 20, 2008
    I'm LOLing at your post right now.

    Yup. Entire speculation on my part. Hence the "I think." :)

    Basically...but then again many did not think the iMac would be updated in Q4 2008 before the AppleInsider rumor. Plus AppleInsider got the September and October product refreshes right, so many thought they would get the November one right too.

    Apple hasn't told us about most other impending releases or updates either. That's why there are rumor sites.

    I believe I mentioned this in a previous post, but how I tie that into my speculation was that Apple sent out that statement shortly after they made the decision (which is only my speculation) to switch some or all of their iMacs to 65 W quad-core and push the iMac update back. They probably said that to squelch the AppleInsider rumor. :p
  12. TheDPR macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2005
    Wouldn't the upgraded graphics (to 9400M) in the Ion outweigh the slower clock speed of the Atom processor for normal desktop use? If so, by how much? If not, how much of a downgrade is it really? Lets not get tied solely to cpu gigahertz here. The upgraded graphics have to be a factor.
  13. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    That will depend on OpenCL. If it's just processor to processor, then the current Mini would swamp the Ion.

    Without Open CL, 2 cores vs. two cores and the current Mini wins. With OpenCL, 2 cores for the current Mini, 18 for the Ion (if we believe Apple).

    A lot. No one in their right mind would buy an Ion-based Mini if it doesn't leverage the gpu cores for all functions, not just graphics.
  14. bozz2006 macrumors 68030


    Aug 24, 2007
    the FSB is really really slow on the ion isn't it?

    also, wouldn't open CL also work it's magic with a C2D 9400M? I mean, the draw of the ion is its low-power consumption right? why would that matter in a desktop? unless it's is waaaaay cheaper than a C2D chip, i don't know why apple would possibly do this.
  15. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    It would have about 1/2 the performance of the current Mini. Remember, the Atom CPU is outperformed by a Celeron megahertz for megahertz. OpenCL isn't a magical doubling of performance; the software code still has to be written to take advantage of it and there are only certain operations it can work with.

    Unless Apple cuts the Mini's price to under $300, which there is no chance of based on what they said in interviews recently, the use of Ion isn't going to happen. Ion will be used in the :apple:TV if they do use it in anything at all.
  16. TheDPR macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2005
    Thanks for the info.

    I can think of a couple reasons why Apple would do it. One is marketing - newer=better, even when it doesn't. Ion is "new" technology and so benchmarks and other comparisons probably don't matter so much.

    Another reason is price. Even if the Ion is only marginally cheaper than the C2D, you're talking about volume savings. They can sell the "new" Mini for the same price with bigger margins and sell more of them because of the "new" factor.

    Also, don't rule out the possibility that they can sell it as "Green" and perhaps get some federal money kicked back their way.

    I doubt Apple is really looking for a "better" Mini, just a good-enough new Mini that will sell.

    I can see the potential to be somewhat of an upgrade but until someone makes something using the Ion, there's really no way to know how it's going to translate into the real world.
  17. blips macrumors newbie

    Jan 13, 2009
    Would there be any reason for Apple to hold off on the release of the new mini until Snow Leopard?
  18. Lesser Evets macrumors 68040

    Lesser Evets

    Jan 7, 2006
    Possible - yes.
    Likely - no.

    It would be a shame if it happens, unless there is some trick version of the Ion we don't know about. Apple is supposedly redesigning the Mini from the ground up, according to rumors last year. If they are redesigning, they are maximizing everything including function and space.

    Maybe there is some market they are aiming for we don't know about: a market which could thrive with an Ion powered mini. However, it's unlikely.

    As discussed elsewhere, Apple is, as Jobs had said, a software company. They make the big, easy bux by selling software (that runs on their hardware). If the mini with Ion can't handle iLife, iWork, and other simple Apple programs, there is NO USE to the mini beyond a niche server market that shoves these on shelves and plugs them into the net. Especially with the availability of better processors. More recent rumors have claimed the mini will support dual monitors, and if they are supporting so much graphics display I doubt the processor will be dumbed down to NOT process the data going to the graphics card.

    Wasn't Apple rumored to have a "home server" on the development? Maybe the home server is playing with the Ion chips.
  19. TrapOx macrumors 6502

    Dec 4, 2008
    The only way they would save money with an Ion Mini is not having to make as many units. Reviews and sales would be in the dumpster.
  20. troubby macrumors newbie

    Sep 17, 2009
    Los Angeles, San Jose, Taiwan
    Do anyone know an ATOM 330 + nVidia ION that works under a Leopard?

    Well, I was hoping to find some nVidia ION 9400M + ATOM 330 Dual Core system, that has a specific hackintosh version to install it without any headaches.
    After some calculation. nVidia ION will save additional 5 to 10 watts per hour than the Intel GMA 950 chipset. ATOM Dual Core (330) is faster than most of the Pentium 4 CPU's, so this would be a perfect computer for my desktop (as I don't really play much games to begin with)

    This would also be a perfect replacement desktop for my Shuttle K45
    Anyone got any good inputs? (Sorry I am new to this forum)
  21. Tyr. macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2007
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Experts are still trying to install a functioning OSX system on an ION system let alone a simple to install hackintosh distribution.

    SOURCE : http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=164051
  22. 300D macrumors 65816


    May 2, 2009
    The Atom doesn't belong in any Apple product except the :apple:TV.
  23. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    If anything it'll be c2d with ion. Can't see apple going backwards if were talking mini.

    However if it's the atv the dc atom with ion would be a substantial upgrade over the current setup giving he atv a definate edge over others.
  24. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    Ion is essentially 9400M+Atom processor so there's no need. It's not a faster system than the 9400M+Core 2 Duo already in the Mac mini.

    Ion's place is in the Apple TV, not the Mac mini.
  25. J&JPolangin macrumors 68030

    Jul 5, 2008
    Thule GL @ the TOW
    ...the Ion/Atom would cut into apples profit too much on an ATV, especially considering it has never been upgraded/updated since the original version with the exception of minor HDD bumps and the recent price decrease...

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