In our latest podcast Kroc and I again talk about the trboules facing netbooks, and we solely place the blame on software not taking proper advantage of the hardware, and OEMs picking the wrong software to begin with. There’s two ways to solve this: better software, or faster hardware. It seems like the industry will move to the latter.
One of the main problems with netbooks is that the Intel Atom platform isn’t as capable a platform as it could be. While the Atom processor is a perfectly fine processor, Intel paired the Atom with a relatively archaic chipset (i945) which simply isn’t very powerful, but does consume a lot of power. The on-board graphical chip on these configurations isn’t very capable either.
NVIDIA provides the answer here with its Ion platform. This platform pairs the Atom processor with the GeForce 9400M graphical processing unit, the same used in recent MacBooks, as well as DDR3-1066 or DDR2-800 SDRAM, providing a much faster alternative to Intel’s default Atom offering, including mainstream gaming and full HD playback. By the way, NVIDIA’s Ion is not to be confused with NVIDIA’s Tegra, which is an ARM-based system-on-a-chip design.
Several manufacturers have now committed to the Ion platform, such as Samsung and Lenovo. Lenovo was the first to announce a netbook using Ion, the IdeaPad S12, slated for August 2009, and Samsung followed suit today. It’s supposed to be called the Samsung N510, and should arrive in July.
With the arrival of NVIDIA’s Ion, the line between a netbook and a notebook becomes so blurry it no longer seems to make any sense to have a distinction at all. “The Netbook term was created by Intel to define a segment offering a limited experience, but with Ion you don’t have those same limitations,” Rene Haas, general manager of notebook products at NVIDIA said, “These systems can handle mainstream gaming, HD video, and new GPU-powered applications. You might as well call them notebooks, because that’s what they are.”
With the N510 having an 11.6″ display, the distinction indeed becomes moot. Netbooks are moving into notebook territory when it comes to performance, which while welcome, is also a little bit disappointing because I had hoped netbooks would force software developers into more performance-efficient coding.
Well, there’s always ARM netbooks.
The problem is, most students right now are receiving the kind of education that will allow them to get a job ASAP. They’re taught how to work on software development, not how to be good software developers.
Java and .net are all over the place, and even though they’re both very programmer friendly (I don’t agree with this, but it seems like it’s the current trend), they leave a lot to be desired on the performance front.
Not only that, most of the time, these students will be encouraged to use the slowest functionality on already slow software platforms, most of the times because they look nice and/or there’s a new fancy buzzword for it.
So rest assured Thom, things on the performance side are going to get much worse 😛
But well, I feel old whenever I talk like this, and I’m not even that old. Now get off my lawn! 😉
Edit: And sorry for going off topic, I’m really tired of bloatware.
Edited 2009-06-29 22:01 UTC